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Whoever fraudulently or dishonestly uses as genuine any document or electronic record, shall be punished in the same manner as if he had forged such document or electronic record : Madhya Pradesh High Court

The Madhya Pradesh High Court in the case of Shrilal vs The State Of Madhya Pradesh (CRIMINAL APPEAL No. 3021 of 2020) upheld that whoever fraudulently or dishonestly uses as genuine any document or electronic record, shall be punished in the same manner as if he had forged such document.

Facts of the case: The Criminal Appeal had been filed by the appellant-Shrilal and co-accused against his conviction under Sections 420/120- B, 467/120-B, 468/120-B & 471/120-B of the I.P.C. 

The complainant Kaluram made a written complaint to the effect that land bearing Khasra No. 766 area is their joint property. The aforesaid land was acquired by the State Government for construction of Badam Doh Reservoir. In lieu of acquisition, the amount of Rs. 19,48,886/- was granted as compensation via cheque which was in the name of all the account holders. Aforesaid cheque was received by Rewaji appellant who deposited the same for encashment in the account No. 1057001700015131, in Punjab National Bank, Branch Dunava. No objection was received from the consenters on the stamp paper. According to the complainant, on such stamp papers photographs and signatures of the consenters were obtained fraudulently by affixing photographs of some others and forging their signatures. The compensation amount was distributed amongst the appellants by playing fraud. After committal of the case, learned trial Court framed the charges under Sections 420/120-B, 467/120-B, 468/120-B & 471/120-B of the I.P.C. against the appellants

The appellants have challenged the aforesaid findings on the grounds that none of the independent witnesses had supported the prosecution case. Neither the compensation amount had been deposited in the account of appellants, nor they withdrew the same. Rewaji was an old person aged about 65 to 70 years and the disputed land was a joint family property belonging to them and was not partitioned. hence, entire compensation amount was deposited in one account holder belongs to Rewaji. The appellants took defense that there was enmity between them, hence, the complainant wanted more of the compensation. His share was still deposited in the Bank account.

Judgment: The court referred to Section 471 of IPC which stipulates that whoever fraudulently or dishonestly uses as genuine any document or electronic record, shall be punished in the same manner as if he had forged such document or electronic record. If the material available on record is appreciated in proper perspective, the aforesaid fraudulent or dishonest commission of offense is missing. 

Therefore, the Court came to the conclusion that main ingredients of cheating and dishonesty were missing in this case against the appellants. There was enmity between the complainant and other joint holders of the property. Other joint holders had given their consent in favor of the appellants. Hence, charges under Sections 420/120-B, 467/120-B, 468/120-B & 471/120-B of the I.P.C had not been proved. Therefore, the appeals were allowed. Appellants were liable to be acquitted from the charges leveled against them.

JUDGMENT REVIEWED BY : SHUBHANGI CHAUDHARY

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