B.P. Beri, C.J.
1. Surja Ram was convicted under Section 471/467 of the Indian Penal Code to two years' rigorous imprisonment and to Pay a fine of Rs. 500 and in default thereof to undergo further rigorous imprisonment for five months by the learned Assistant Sessions Judge, Hanumangarh by his judgment dated August 31. 1968 for having produced a forged receipt in an execution case in which he was the judgment-debtor. Surja Ram appealed but the learned Additional Sessions Judge No. 2, Sri Ganga-nagar by his judgment dated May 10, 1971 dismissed the appeal. Dissatisfied Surja Ram is before me asking for a revision.
2. In execution case No. 59/59 Ramlal was the decree-holder andSurja Ram was the judgment-debtor. It was an instalment decree in which the instalment fixed was of Rs. 500/-. In answer to the execution levied by the decree-holder Surja Ram filed an objection and produced a receipt Ex. P-7 dated 14-6-1959 in an effort to prove that the instalment had already been paid to the decree-holder. Witnesses were examined by Surja Ram to show that the receipt Ex. P/7 was executed by Ramlal in their presence. Ramlal, however, maintained that he had received no such amount and that the receipt was a forgery. He examined Mr. K.S. Puri, a finger-print expert, who proved that the finger-print on the receipt Ex. P-7 was of loop variety while the thumb impression of Ramlal on Exhibit P. 15 was of whorl type and the two were diametrically opposite. The objection of judgment-debtor Surja Ram was rejected and the learned court executing the decree ordered Suria Ram's prosecution. An application was moved under Section 476, Criminal P.C. against Mamraj. Banwarilal and Budhram for their prosecution for forgery. After necessary inquiry, the Court ordered that the four persons be prosecuted under Sections 467. 471 and 193 of the Indian Penal Code. A First Class Magistrate after holding committal proceedings committed all of them and they came before the learned Assistant Sessions Judge to face their trial. He found that it was not established by the prosecution that Mamraj, Banwarilal and Budhram had committed the forgery but he found that the receipt Exhibit P-7 was a forgery without doubt on the evidence of the finger-print expert and that the said receipt was produced before the Court executing the decree in execution case No. 59/59 by Shri Brijlal, Advocate, appearing for and on behalf of Surja Ram. The defence of Surja Ram was that he had no knowledge that the document whien he produced in the execution case was a forged one. He examined Ramjas as a defence witness to show that it was on August 6, 1968 when he went to the Municipal Dispensary. Rajsingnagar. Surja Ram happened to disclose to Ramjas that he had a case against him on the basis of a receipt. Ramjas then supplied him the information that he remembered that it was in June, 1959 when he was sitting in Co-operative Societies' Office that Ramlal came there and took a stamp and got the impression of his brother-in-law on one paper which was half written and that it was a receipt in the sum of Rupees 500/-. The learned Assistant Sessions Judge rejected this as an afterthought and sentenced accused Suriaram as indicated earlier. After an unsuccessful appeal before the Additional Sessions Judge Surja Ram is here.
3. The learned Counsel for the accused submitted that the prosecution has not been able to establish that when the receipt was produced by Surja Ram he had knowledge that it was a forged receipt. In any event the learned Counsel urged that the offence if found to be proved was committed in 1959 and we are in 1974. Fifteen years of protracted trial is a punishment in itself and the accused has already undergone about 25 days' rigorous imprisonment. This certainly is a case which calls for great reduction in the sentence.
4. The learned Government Advocate urged that Surja Ram wanted to meet his civil liability in the execution case No. 59/59 and led evidence to show that it was a genuine document. When it was discovered that the document was an unquestioned forgery with a fingerprint of an altogether different kind he tried to seek refuge in the information which Ramjas gratuitously supplied to him in a casual meeting at a dispensary. Both the Courts have, therefore rightly come to the conclusion that the defence of acquiring knowledge in 1968 is an afterthought. In regard to the question of sentence the learned Counsel urged that the offence is not the result of any sudden impulse but was the product of a deep design to successfully liquidate a liability and it calls for no reduction -- period of 15 vears notwithstanding.
5. It is not disputed that an execution case was pending against Surja Ram, being 59 of 1959, for the recovery of certain money which was to be payable in instalments of Rs. 500/- each. It is not controverted either, and in fact it stands proved beyond doubt that Shri Brijlal, Advocate, counsel for Surja Ram, produced a receipt with an objection that the instalment had already been paid. Had this document been a genuine it would have been a complete answer to the execution application. The receipt bore a thumb print. The evidence of finger-print expert Mr. Puri is categorical that it is altogether different in type from the finger print of decree-holder Ram lal. Therefore, Surja Ram produced this document, which is a receipt, for the purposes of evidencing his contention in the execution case that the instalment had been paid. It will be reasonable to conclude from the evidence led by Surja Ram that his positive case was that the receipt was made in the presence of his witnesses and it was thumb marked by decree-holder. The tale which Ramjas told Surja Ram at the dispensary was not spun till then. In these circumstances I am more than satisfied that Surja Ram was conscious that the receipt Ex. P-7 was a forged document and he used it to combat a part of the decretal liability. Under Section 471 of the Indian Penal Code the punishment provided for using as genuine a forged document is the same as if the user had forged the document and, therefore, the punishment in this case will be the same as provided in Section 467 of the Indian Penal Code, which inter alia provides that whoever forges any document purporting to be an acquittance or a receipt for the delivery of any movable property he shall be punished with imprisonment for life or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 10 years, and shall also be liable to fine. It is correct that the receipt Ex. P-7 was produced in the Court on 13-10-1959 and, therefore, must have come into being on or before that date. Surja Ram was ordered to be prosecuted on 15-10-1960 and 134 years have no doubt been taken in the journey of this litigation. Protracted criminal litigation sometimes is a factor which calls for reduction of punishment. But it cannot be laid down as a universal proposition that if a case had progressed leisurely, whoever might be responsible for it, that would necessarily mitigate the gravity of the offence. For the social and moral health of the society purity in the administration of justice is a necessary condition. Whoever pollutes the course of justice by deliberately mutilating truth in his own interest is a person who forfeits his claims for leniency. I have given my very anxious consideration to the appeal made by the learned Counsel for the accused but I regret that in a case such as this any indulgence would be unjustified in the interest of the community and would be contrary to the command of law. I accordingly see no reason to interfere with the sentence awarded.
6. The revision fails and is dismissed. The applicant is not before me. The Sessions Judge, Sri Ganganagar would get the accused arrested to serve out the remaining sentence awarded to him.