The section states that whoever has in his possession any document or electronic record with the knowledge that the same is a forged document or electronic record and has the intention that the same shall be used as genuine either fraudulently or dishonestly, shall, if the document or electronic record falls under any of the descriptions mentioned in section 466 of the Code, be punished with simple or rigorous imprisonment for a term extending up to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine; and if the document falls under any of the descriptions mentioned in section 467 of the Code, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with simple or rigorous imprisonment for a term extending up to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.
The section requires that the offender must be in possession of a document or electronic record as described in section 466 or a document as described in section 467. He must have knowledge that the same is forged. He must have the intention that the same shall fraudulently or dishonestly be used as genuine. Whether the intention materialises or not is of no consequence.
If the document or electronic record falls under any of the descriptions as mentioned in section 466, the maximum penalty provided is comparatively less, and if the document falls under any of the descriptions as mentioned in section 467, the offence is very serious and is punishable with the maximum penalty of imprisonment for life. This section is similar to sections 242, 243 and 259 of the Code, making preparation to commit a crime is an offence under the latter part of this section.
The Delhi High Court has held1 that where the accused who was a Joint Director, Vigilance and who was found to be in possession of certain fictitious documents which were being created from time to time for the purpose of involving certain persons in criminal cases, the inference that the accused was an imposter and had the intention to use the documents could be drawn. It must be noted, however, that such inference could be drawn only on the basis of very strong evidence, full facts and circumstances of the case. One such important circumstance could be whether the accused could satisfactorily explain as to how he became possessed of the incriminating documents.
The offence under this section is bailable and non-compoundable, and is triable by magistrate of the first class. If the document is one of the descriptions mentioned in section 466, the offence is cognizable, and if it is one of the descriptions mentioned in section 467, it is a non-cognizable offence.