1. The appellant Jawahir has been convicted of an offence punishable under Section 474, Indian Penal Code, in respect of a document, or more strictly speaking of two documents endorsed on separate halves of a sheet of paper, alleged to have been found in his possession. The documents in question are a blank promissory note and a blank receipt. Both purported to be signed by one Bindhayachal. At the top of each of these papers there is an adhesive stamp of one anna; but the signature is not across the stamp nor has the stamp been cancelled in accordance with the provisions of Section 12 of the Indian Stamp Act, No. II of l899. The papers question are blank in this sense, that they are printed forms with none of the particulars tilled in. There is no specification of the person in whose favour either document purports to be executed, nor yet of the date or place of execution, nor yet of the amount of money involved. One document purports on the face of it to be a receipt where by Bindhayachal acknowledges to have received an unspecified some of money, on an unspecified date, from some person not specified. Similarly the other document purports to be a promissory note whereby Bindhayachal binds himself to pay to or to the order of an unspecified person an unspecified sum of money, with interest and compound interest after six monthly rests, the rate of interest also remaining unspecified. What I have been asked to consider on appeal is whether all the requirements necessary to a conviction under Section 474, Indian Penal Code, have been satisfied.
2. The first question is whether these documents are forgeries. The defence set up by Jawahir in the Court below was that these documents were genuine, that they were actually signed by Bindhayachal after a stamp had been affixed and that they were signed for good consideration, namely, in return for a loan of Rs. 900. One witness was called to prove this of the name of Nageshar Rai. He has, in my opinion, been very properly discredited by the learned Sessions Judge and I think it unnecessary to comment upon his evidence in detail. The question is whether the prosecution has affirmatively proved the signature of Bindhayachal on these papers to be a forgery. Bindhayachal went into the witness-box and denied having made either of these signatures. If he is believed, there is an end of the case so far as this point is concerned. There is very strong expert evidence, that of Mr. F. Brewester, to the effect that the two contested signatures do not agree with the admitted signatures of Bindhayachal and were not in fact written by the man who wrote the aforesaid admitted signatures. This is obviously not a case in which it is sought to base a conviction on the uncorroborated testimony of an expert in handwriting. The testimony on which the Court is asked to act is the sworn testimony of Bindhayachal. The question is whether Mr. Brewester's evidence affords reliable corroboration of Bindhayachal's evidence. I am of opinion that it does. Further, the proved circumstances of the case generally support Bindhayachal's denial. He is a wealthier man than Jawahir, and the two men are and have long been on inimical terms. Circumstances have been proved quite sufficient to make it improbable in a very high degree that Bindhayachal should have borrowed Rs. 900 from Jawahir, or that Jawahir should have been content to lend such a sum on the security of an inchoate promissory note and receipt. The Assessors who heard the evidence were in full agreement with the learned Sessions Judge in holding that these two papers were forged documents. I feel no hesitation about endorsing that finding. It has next been contended that the possession of these documents by Jawahir is not proved. The prosecution evidence is to the effect that they were found in the joint family house inhabited by Jawahir, by his father and by his brother. The prosecution has also been able to prove that after the finding of these documents Jawahir propounded a mortgage-deed purporting to be executed by Bindhayachal in his own favour, in which a portion of the consideration purported to be a sum of Rs. 900 and interest on the same, due on a blank promissory note executed by Bindhayachal. This evidence was at least sufficient to establish a prima facie case against the accused, a case on which Jawahir could properly be questioned by the Court. The answers returned by Jawahir to the questions put to him both in the Magistrate's and in the Sessions Court clearly show that he had no desire to deny the possession of these documents, or to set up any joint responsibility for the same on the part of other members of his family. On the prosecution evidence, taken in connection with the accused's own admissions, I am satisfied that Jawahir's possession was proved. Something has also been said in argument before me as to the absence of fraudulent or dishonest intention on the part of the accused. There is no force in this plea. The possession of these documents coupled with the circumstantial evidence as to the relations existing between Jawahir and Bindhayachal and considered along with the nature of the defence set up by Jawahir himself in the Court below would probably have been sufficient in any case to justify a finding against the appellant. The point is settled beyond reasonable controversy by the use admitted to have been made of this alleged promissory note in connection with the mortgage-deed subsequently propounded. There remains, however, one point to be considered before the conviction can be affirmed. The learned Sessions Judge has assumed that the documents in question, as they stand, are 'valuable securities' within the meaning of the definition contained in Section 30, Indian Penal Code, and falling within the scope of Section 457 of the same Code. A very ingenious argument to the contrary has been pressed upon my notice on behalf of the appellant. If the signatures of the alleged executant Bindhayachal upon these documents had been across the adhesive stamps, or those stamps had been otherwise cancelled in accordance with Section 12 of the Indian Stamp Act, II of 1899, there could be no possible question as to the provisions of Section 20 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, XXVI of 1881, operating in respect of these documents. Even if it had to be conceded that the documents as they stood did not purport to be valuable securities, they would beyond all question purport to be documents giving authority to the holder of the same to make a valuable security. No doubt the holder of these documents had no intention of propounding them or using them in a Court of Law without first cancelling the adhesive stamps: but the documents as they stand cannot be said to be stamped in accordance with law. I am of opinion, however, that these documents must be held to be, as they stand, 'valuable securities' within the meaning of Section 30, Indian Penal Code. There is an old case of High Court Proceedings 5th August 1873 7 M.H.C.R. App. XXVI, in which the meaning of the words purport to be' was considered, and it was held that a document which had not been stamped, and was, therefore, not admissible in evidence, might nevertheless be a valuable security. The same point was again decided in the case of Queen Empress v. Ramasami 12 M. 148. I am satisfied that the two papers in respect of which the appellant has been convicted do purport to be documents whereby a legal right is created within the meaning of Section 30, Indian Penal Code. The appellant has, therefore, been rightly convicted.
3. As regards the question of sentence, I must say that I should feel it more satisfactory if I were in a position to consider this question after having before me the result of the proceedings which, I understand, have been instituted in respect of the mortgage-deed propounded by Jawahir subsequently to the discovery of these two documents in his possession. As the case now stands before me, I am not prepared to say that the sentence passed is unduly severe. I dismiss this appeal.