Forgery of documents is an unlawful act in which a person attempts to fake a documents subject matter or real signatures with the intent of deceiving another person’s identity. Photocopies and reproductions are not considered forgeries as long as they are not changed in some way. Sections 463 to 477A of the Indian Penal Code 1860 deal with forgery. The burden of proof lies on the complainant under Section 101 of the Evidence Act. The offenses and punishments are given in the sections. Forgery, phony documents, fake legal tenders, and their possession are the offenses listed in the sections.

Forgery of documentation means the fabrication of fake documents along with the unaccredited repetition of information. Forgery is committed by a person who has intention to cause harm and the fraud is done by providing a fake document. The forgery comes under Section 463 and the punishment for forgery is given under section 465 of IPC. Section 464 talks about what results in a fake document, whereas Sections 465-469 talks about a wide scope of forging crimes.

Forgery is mostly used by white-collar criminals to commit corporate scams that lead to tremendous losses to companies, government and individuals. Forgery of documents is common in crimes such as cheating, embezzlement, misappropriation of funds etc. In addition to this, forgery can also occur in signatures, artwork and prescriptions and so on. Forgery involves fraud leading to cause theft. An individual is not liable for forgery merely because he has copied someone’s work; culpability is only enforced against him for copying the work if he sells and gain some monetary benefit out of it.


  • The replacing of one’s signature is called signature forging. There are techniques such as tracing & carbon intermediate used to accomplish this.
  • Art forgery is the copying of a work made by any artist in order to present it as a real work of a person is art forgery and if the proceeds from the transaction are significant in nature, then it can result in criminal charges.
  • Prescription forgery is forging a doctor’s signature or the whole prescription slip in order to get prescription drugs from a chemist shop that are not accessible to the public without a prescription slip. Nowadays, this issue has become so common that now medical shops have started calling doctors before giving any prescription medications to general public.
  • Forgery of federal papers is known as federal forgery.


Forgery Involves the Element of Deception: In most of the territories, the offence of forgery is not inflicted upon unless it is committed with the intention of committing fraud theft. For example, the work can be copied without any offence being committed unless someone tries to sell. In these types of cases, the act would be considered an illegal forgery.

Forgery requires Creation of Fake Document: Forgery also involves the formation of fake documents. For example, it can include photocopy of someone’s signature and then with the help of a computer placing it on a document without their knowledge and consent. Moreover, forgery occurs in the field of art and literature on a grand level.

The Intention of the Forger: Section 468 specifically deals with the cases where forgery is done with the intent of cheating. Forgery has been described earlier as concerning the existence of one or the other two elements of dishonesty or fraud.
The prosecution has to prove that:

  • The Accused has committed forgery.
  • He committed the offence with an intention to use the forged document for the purpose of cheating.


Section 463 – The definition of forgery.

Section 464 – Making of the forged documents.

Section 465 – The punishment for forgery. It says whoever commits the offence of forgery shall be sentenced with the imprisonment for a term extendable to two years or with fine, or both.

Section 466 – The forgery of documentation related to court of justice or public register.

Section 467 – The forgery will, adoption deed or any other valuable security documents etc.

Section 468 – It deals with the cases where forgery is done for the purpose of cheating.

Section 469 –The forgery done with the intent to harm someone’s reputation.

Section 470 – The definition of a forged document.

Section 471 –Use a fake document as authentic document.

Section 472 –Intent to commit forgery by creating or possessing counterfeit seal.

Section 474 – To have the possession of documents given under the section 466 or 467, knowing them to be forged and intending to use them as genuine.

Section 475 – To have possession of counterfeit marked material to use for authenticating documents other than those given under section 467.

Section 477 – Fraudulent cancelling or destroying of will, authority to adopt or any other valuable security.

Section 477A – Falsification of Accounts.

The SC held in the case of Sheila Sebastian v. R. Jawaharaj that the act of forgery cannot be enforced on someone who is not the creator of the same. SC also held that unless the contents of Section 463 are pleased a person cannot be held liable under Section 465 by only counting on the contents of Section 464, as forgery shall stay incomplete.

In the landmark case of Ibrahim & Ors. v. State of Bihar & Ors., the Supreme Court held that a person is liable for making ‘false document’ if: (i) He makes or executes a document pretending to be someone else or given authority by someone else; or He changed or tampered with the content of a document; or He acquired a document by employing deception, or from someone who is not in control of his senses or of unsound mind.

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