SC: Incorrect statement in Vakalatnama doesn’t amount to forgery

Today, i.e. on 7th May 2019, the Hon’ble Supreme Court, in the matter of Sasikala Pushpa And Others v.State Of Tamil Nadu pronounced that a mere incorrect statement in the vakalatnama would not amount to creating a forged document and  cannot be the reason for exercising jurisdiction under Section 340 Cr.P.C.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that:

Before proceeding to make a complaint regarding commission of an offence referred to in Section 195(1)(b) Cr.P.C., the court must satisfy itself that “it is expedient in the interest of justice”. The language in Section 340 Cr.P.C. shows that such a course will be adopted only if the interest of justice requires and not in every case.(Para 11)

A vakalatnama is only a document which authorizes an advocate to appear on behalf of the party and by and large, it has no bearing on the merits of the case.(Para 16)

Even if forgery is committed outside the precincts of the court and long before its production in the court, it would also be treated as one affecting the administration of justice. (Para 18)

Fraud implies intentionally deception aimed or achieving some wrongful gain or causing wrongful loss or injury to another. Intention being the mens rea is the essential ingredient to hold that a fraud has been played upon the court. (Para 18)

Where the party signing the Vakalatnama has admitted his/her signatures on the vakalatnama, a contrary opinion of the hand-writing expert would not stand on a higher footing. (This inference has been drawn on the basis of Para 18)

Mere incorrect statement in the vakalatnama would not amount to creating a forged document and it cannot be the reason for exercising the jurisdiction under Section 340 Cr.P.C. for issuance of direction to lodge the criminal complaint. (Para 19)

Copy of judgement: Judgement_07-May-2019

-Tushar Kaushik

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