Digital Forgery

Forgery is the creation of a document which one knows is not genuine and yet projects the same as if it is genuine. In common parlance it is used more in terms of affixing somebody else’s signature on a document. Digital forgery implies making use of digital technology to forge a document desktop publishing systems, color laser and ink-jet printers, color copiers and images canners enable crooks to make fakes with relative ease of cheques, passport, currency, visas, birth certificates, Id cards etc.

Indian law

Section 91 of the IT Act amended the provisions of the IPC in relation to forgery to include electronic records as well. Section 29A has been inserted in the Indian Penal Code to provide for a definition of electronic record. The words electronic record will have the same meaning which is assigned to it in section 2(1)(t)2 of the IT Act. Section 464 of the IPC was amended by section 91 of the IT Act to include as false electronic record. Under section 464 a person is said to make a false electronic record:

  1. Who dishonestly or fraudulently makes or transmits any electronic record or part of any electronic record or affixes any digital signature on any the electronic record or makes any mark denoting the authencity of the digital signature with the intention of causing it to be believed that such electronic record or part of an electronic record or digital signature was made executed transmitted or affixed by or by the authority of a person by whom or by whose authority he knows that it was not made executed or affixed
  2. Who without lawful authority dishonestly or fraudulently by cancellation or otherwise alters an electronic record in any material part thereof after it has been made executed or affixed with a digital signature either by himself or by any other person whether such person be living or dead at the time of such alteration
  3. Who dishonestly or fraudulently causes any person to sign execute or alter an electronic record or to affix his digital signature on any electronic record 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 electronic record or the nature of the alteration.


Explanation 3 to section 464 has also been inserted which for the purpose of this section provides for the expression affixing digital signature to have the same meaning as assigned to it in section 2(1)(d)3 of the IT Act.


Section 463 of the IPC after amendment defines forgery in relation to electronic records as the making of any false electronic record or part thereof with intent to cause damage or injury to the public or to any person or to support any claim or title or to cause any person to part with property or to enter into eyes express or implied contarct or with intent to commit fraud or that fraud may be committed.


(Section 466- forgery of record of court or of public register) (section 468- forgery for purpose of cheating) (Section- 469 forger for purpose of harming reputation). (Section 470- forged document or electronic record) (Section 471- using a genuine a forged document.) (Section 474- having possession of the document described in section 466 or 467 knowing it ot be forged and intending to use it as genuine) and (Section 476 counterfeiting device or mark used for authenticating documents others than those described in Section 467 or possessing counterfeit marked material have also been suitably amended to include electronic records.

It may however be noticed that section 467 which pertains to forgery of valuable security will etc. has not been amended for the reason that section 1(4) bars the applicability of the IT Act to certain documents including a will, trust, power of attorney, contract for sale or conveyance of immovable property etc.

So digital forgery and offences related to it are now covered under the IPC pursuant to the amendments made by the IT Act


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