Offences relating to documents & property marks

Offences relating to documents & property marks

Offences relating to documents

Since the invention of writing, the offence of forgery has existed. In Roman Law, it was enacted by the lexxornelia de falsis, that a person who falsely writes, seals, publically reads or foists in a  forged will or other document or makes cuts, moulds, a superiors seal wilfully and maliciously should be a punished, if he is a free man he should be deported, and if a salve, he should be killed. Blackstone refers to such offences, especially the forging of seals of state, which was treated as one form of treason. In modern law, forgery has been defined as making of a false instrument with intent to deceive. The forgery Act, 1913, defined forgery, section 1(10) of the Act defines forgery as making a false documentary so that it may be used as genuine. However, this Act stands repealed by the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act, 1981.

Chapter XVIII of the Indian Penal Code deals with the offences relating to documents. Section 463-477A deals with all kinds of falsifications and forgery of documents.

Section 463-465 dwell on forgery. The offence of forgery as defined in the Code, is made up of two main provisions. Section 463 defines forgery as making of a false document or false electronic record with any of the intentions noted therein. Section 464 defines the making of a false document or false electronic record sufficient to be brought within the ambit of forgery. There is one component that is common to both, fraud. To constitute forgery, the accused must have made a false document or an electronic record or part of such a document or electronic record. The essential Ingredients of forgery are

1. The making of a false document or false electronic record or part of it

2. Such making should be with the intent to a.) Cause damage or injury to the public or any person or b.) support any claim or title c.) Cause any person to part with property d.) enter into any express or implied contracts or e.) commit fraud or that fraud may be committed.

In the case of Daniel Hailey Ealcott v. State of Madras, the court described the main elements of the offence of forgery as

  1. The document or part of the document mustbe false in fact
  2.  It must have been made dishonestly or fraudulently within the meaning of the words used in Section 464 and
  3. It must have been made with one of the intentions specified in section 463

Sections 466-471A deal with aggravated forms of forgery. Section 466 deals with forgery of five types of documents. They are:

  • Court records and pleadings 
  • Register of birth, death, baptism, marriage or register kept by public servant and such 
  • Certificate or document purporting to be made by a public servant in his official capacity
  • An authority to substitute or defend a suit or to take any proceedings therein
  • A power of attorney

Section 467 deals with all the necessary elements to constitute forgery must be proved before there can be a conviction under this section. To establish this offence, the prosecution has to necessarily prove that there was intention as is implied in the term ‘fraudulent’ or ‘dishonestly’ occurring in section 463 and 464. Section 468 brings to life the forms of forgery contemplated should necessarily involve the intention of committing cheating. The section will not apply when the cheating is complete; the subsequent forgery is only intended to cover that offence. This section does not require that the accused should commit the offence. The words intend to defraud is not synonymous with intent to deceive. In the case of Dr. S Dutt v. State of Uttar Pradesh, the accused was examined as an expert in a session trial. When he was asked by the court to produce his degrees and other certificates regarding his qualification, it was found that they were forged and false and that he was using them as genuine, he was charged under Section 465 and 471. The fifth law commission has recommended a couple of substantive changes in the structural law of forgery. Most of the proposals are for reform pertaining to the merging of the sections of forgery into one section, the 1978 Amendment sought to give effect to some of these proposals.

Offences relating to Property Marks

Chapter XVIII deals with property marks, Section 479 defines property marks as denoting a mark made on a movable property which denotes that it belongs to a particular person implying that it differentiates the right of other people to the same property. The object of such a provision is clear it protects one’s goods from fraudulent intimation by others. A gist of the sections on property marks is as follows:

  • Section 479- Defines property marks
  • Section 481 deals with using a false property mark
  • Section 482 Punishment for using a  false property mark
  • Section 483 Counterfeiting a property mark used by another
  • Section 484 Counterfeiting a mark used by a public servant
  • Section 485 Making a possession of any instrument for counterfeiting a property mark
  • Section 486 Selling goods marked with a  counterfeit property mark
  • Section 487 Deceiving a public servant by a false mark
  • Section 489 Removing defacing or altering any property mark

A mark used for denoting that any moveable property belongs to a particular person is called ‘property mark.’ A person is said to use a false property marks: if the marks any moveable property or good or any case, package, or another receptacle, having any mark thereon. In a manner reasonably calculated to cause it to be believed that the property or goods so marked, or any property or goods contained in any such receptacle so marked, belong to a person to whom they do not belong. In such a context, the offender becomes liable for imprisonment for one year or fine or both.

“The views of the authors are personal

Frequently Asked Questions

Is forgery a bailable offence?

Section 465 of the Indian Penal Code deals with the punishment for forgery. As per this section, the offence is punishable by a jail term extending up to 2 years or fine or both. It is a non-cognizable, bailable offence which is triable by Magistrate of the first class.

What is the difference between a trademark and property mark?

The distinction between a trademark and a property mark is that whereas the former denotes the manufacture or quality of the goods to which it is attached, the latter denotes the ownership in them. In other words, a trademark concerns the goods themselves, while a property mark concerns the proprietor

Is it legal to sign someone else’s name?

In order to legally sign for someone else, the signer must have the express permission of the person she is signing for. For example, if your brother had not given you explicit permission to sign the lease, but you believed he would have so you signed to help him out, you might be in trouble.


  • The Indian Penal Code, K.D. Gaur, fourth Edition, Universal Law Publishing Co.
  • Criminal Law, PSA Pillai, 11th Edition, Lexis Nexis
  • Cecil Turner.J. (2013), Kenny’s Outlines of Criminal Law, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  • Textbook of Criminal Law, Glanville Williams, fourth Edition, Sweet & Maxwell South Asian Edition
  • Daniel Hailey Ealcott v. State of Madras
  • Dr. S Dutt v. State of Uttar Pradesh AIR 1966 SC 523
Srishti John
Srishti is a law student at CMR School of Legal Studies, Bangalore. In her time at law school, she has found herself lost in subjects like Jurisprudence and Criminology. She loves a good debate and people who challenge her to become better. She is a Political Science graduate from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai. Her resolutions involve reading 30 books in 2020 and spreading a message of joy, kindness and love. She wants to pursue her LLM and aid the violated and vulnerable in their quest for equality & justice.