Laws for everyday life
Making a false document is an offence
Advocate Jahangir Alam Sarker Sagar
In generally the word 'forgery' means copying something illegally, that means the act of making or producing an illegal copy of something so that it looks genuine, usually for financial gain. It also includes an illegal copy of something such as a document or painting that has been made to look genuine. In Bangladeshi criminal law, forgery is a fraudulent altering of a written document or seal, with the intent of injuring the interests of another person or of fraudulently obtaining governmental revenue. Forgeries must be executed with such skill or in such circumstances as to be mistaken for a genuine document by the average person. They do not necessarily try to imitate the handwriting of another or the form of the simulated document.
If the intention was to deceive, and the circumstances were such as to render deception possible, then the crime has been committed; consequently, forgery applies to signing the name of a person who cannot write. The offence is not limited to the fabrication of writing, but includes the fabrication of printed or engraved instruments, such as railroad and airplane tickets, corporation stock certificates, and bonds. Moreover, the false document must have an apparent legal efficacy. The following are some provision of Penal Code, 1860 which governs forgery offence in Bangladesh. Sections 463 o 477(A) deals with forgery.
Elements of forgery
The word forgery is used as a general term under the section 463. In any case under section 463, to establish forgery the prosecution must prove not only that the document is a false document under section 464 of the Penal Code but also that it was forced by accused with one of the intent mentioned in section 463 of the Penal Code. If we analysis the provisions of the Section 463 of the Penal Code, 1860, which defines forgery, would explore those two essential elements of the offence of forgery. Such as
1. The making of a false document;
2. Doing it with a fraudulent intention to cause damage or injure to any person, to support a false claim or title or to cause a person to part with the property covered by the false documents.
Application of Section 463 and a land mark case
In the case of Jahangir Hossain v. the State it is mentioned that whether the claim to be admitted to the first year class of MBBS course on the basis of false mark sheet is a 'claim' within the meaning of the section 463 whether expression 'Claim' occurring in section 463 is limited to claim to property. Elements of wrongful gain and wrongful loss were present in the above case. Mark sheets submitted by the appellant were forged ones. Where there is an intention to deceive and by means of the deceit to obtain an advantage there is a fraud and if a document is fabricated with such intent, it is forgery (40 DLR 545; 7 BLD, 1987, p.366- 367; 8 BCR 209).
The claim of being admitted into first year class of MBBS course on the basis of false mark sheet is a claim within the meaning of the section 463 of the Penal Code. Here accused Jahangir Hossain by presenting false mark sheets not only intended to obtain an advantage of admission and there by to deprive other students of the benefit of admission. Therefore, the mark-sheet submitted by the appellant Jahangir Hossain was a forged one. The claim being admitted into first year class of MBBS course on the basis of false mark sheet is a claim within the meaning of section 463 of the Penal Code. The document was also made fraudulently as having been made with the intention that appellant Jahangir Hossain should by use of it deceive a college authority.
A person is said to make a false document, first- who dishonestly or fraudulently makes, signs, seals or executes a document or part of a document, or makes any mark denoting the execution of a document, with the intention of causing it to be believed that such document or part of a document was made, signed, sealed or executed by or by the authority of a person by whom or by whose authority he knows that it was not made, signed, sealed or executed, or at a time at which he knows that it was not made, signed, sealed or executed; or
Secondly- Who, without lawful authority, dishonestly or fraudulently, by cancellation or otherwise, alters a document in any material part thereof, after it has been made or executed either by himself or by any other person, whether such person be living or dead at the time of such alteration; or
Thirdly- Who dishonestly or fraudulently causes any person to sign, seal, execute or alter a document, knowing that such person by reason of unsoundness of mind or intoxication cannot, or that by reason of deception practiced upon him, he does not know the contents of the document or the nature of the alteration?
When signature of own name may amount to forgery
Section 464 of the Penal Code, 1860 deals with when signature of own name amount to forgery. Such as-
Explanation 1- A man's signature of his own name may amount to forgery.
Explanation 2- The making of a false document in the name of a fictitious person, intending it to be believed that the document was made by a real person, or in the name of a deceased person, intending it to be believed that the document was made by the person in his lifetime, may amount to forgery. Whoever commits forgery shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both(Section 465).
From the above discussion, now it is very much clear and at least that is what I think, 'forgery' and 'making a false document' is a punishable offence under the Penal Code, 1860. Here it is mentioned that making false document is to be understood in its literal sense. It has been special connotation in the code. The contours of the said expression are delineated in section 464 of the Penal Code.
Advocate Jahangir Alam Sarker Sagar is Lawyer & Human Rights Activist.