Abdur Rahim, J.
1. The first accused has been convicted under Sections 467 and 471, Indian Penal Code, and sentenced to three years rigorous imprisonment and the 2nd and 3rd accused have been convicted under Section 467, Indian Penal Code, and sentenced to one year's rigorous imprisonment each. The document said to have been forged and used as genuine is Exhibit J in the case. It is a promissory note which purports to have been executed on the 3rd October 1909 for the sum of Rs. 260. The alleged executant of the note is one Meda Lakshmayya, who died on the 8th September 1911 leaving as his heirs two minor sons. On his death the 1st accused instituted a suit in the Court of the District Munsif on the 21st November 1911 claiming a sum of Rs. 460 with interest on the basis of the promissory note. Exhibit J purports to be attested by accused Nos. 2 and 3 who do not deny the same. They admit that they attested it. Their defence, as: also that of the 1st accused, is that it is a genuine document executed by Meda Lakshmayya. This Exhibit J recites another promissory note, Exhibit K3, which is for Rs. 200, and that purports to have been executed in 1906. That promissory note is also alleged to be a forged document. It appears that the 1st accused and Meda Lakshmayya had dealings with each other, that the 1st accused cultivated the land belonging to Meda Lakshmayya and that Meda Lakshmayya borrowed a sum of Us. 200 in 1903 on a promissory note Exhibit K1.
2. The case of the prosecution is that the parties did not settle their accounts until some time in 1911, not long before the death of Meda Lakshmayya, and that in that settlement of account Rs. 60 was found due to the 1st accused and a promissory note was executed on 25th July 1911.
3. The promissory note, Exhibit K3, bears a unified stamp and the evidence adduced on behalf of the prosecution conclusively shows that such a stamp was not available in the Presidency and probably in no other province in India on that date. It came into vogue in this Presidency some months afterwards. That is a fact which requires explanation and the explanation given by the 1st accused is that as a matter of fact the account was settled between him and Meda Lakshmayya on the date which Exhibit K3 bears, that as no stamp was available in the village of the 1st accused where the note was written, the executant went away to his own village promising to put a stamp on it afterwards and to execute it, that as a matter of fact in Pongal 1907 Meda Lakshmayya executed that note, an unified stamp which was then procured being affixed at the time. It is, however, pointed out by the learned Sessions Judge that this was not the explanation which was put forward by the 1st accused at the time the application for sanction was made by P.W. No. 5, who is the brother of the deceased Meda Lakshmayya. It seems to me extremely unlikely that no stamp was available at the time the promissory note Exhibit K3 was written. There was a stamp-vendor about two or three miles from the village of the 1st accused and there was also a stamp-vendor in the village of the deceased Meda Lakshmayya. Then if the accused's explanation was true, it is inconceivable that it should not have been put forward at the earliest stage. On the other hand in his answer to the petition for sanction, the 1st accused suggests that as a matter of fact the unified stamp was available on the date on which Exhibit K3 was written and that as a matter of fact it was affixed on that date. That circumstance alone would be sufficient to show that Exhibit K3 is a false document. If Exhibit K3 is false it cannot be argued that Exhibit J could be genuine. Besides this fact there is also evidence to show that there was a settlement of account between the 1st accused and Meda Lakshmayya on the 25th July 1911, This is spoken to by P.W. No. 5, who is a respectable trader who knew both the parties and who has been believed by the learned Sessions Judge and is supported by the account produced on behalf of the prosecution. The entries in those accounts so far as they relate to this transaction are in the handwriting of Meda Lakshmayya and unless they are forged, they entirely bear out the case of the prosecution. The 1st accused denies that there was any promissory note executed on the 25th July. 1911 and the learned Counsel who appeared for him and the other accused before us has strenuously argued that the accounts, Exhibits M and N, have not been kept in the regular course of business. There is considerable evidence to show that the entries in question are in the handwriting of Meda Lakshmayya. P.W. No. 5, his brother, in the examination-in-chief, said that he was present when the transaction took place and that the entries were made in his presence. It is pointed out to us that this witness stated before the District Munsif that he did not know very much of the accounts. In a matter like this where entries in certain books of account are proved to be in the handwriting of a person since deceased, any objection to their admissibility on the ground that they were not proved to have been kept in the regular course of business ought to be taken at the time of the trial. If the objection were then taken the matter could have been very easily rectified by formal evidence being given that they were kept in the regular course of business.
4. As regards the question whether those accounts are genuine or not, there can be no doubt whatever of their genuineness. It is inconceivable that Meda Lakshmayya in whom the 1st accused admittedly placed much confidence should have made false entries in anticipation of the present suit being instituted by the 1st accused. There is nothing whatever in the evidence to suggest that Meda Lakshmayya would have been guilty of such a conduct. Unless there was some good reason for making such a supposition, we cannot hold that the entries showing a settlement of account in 1911 are not genuine. It is also argued by Mr. Barton that though his client did cultivate the land for twelve years prior to suit, he had nothing to do with it since then. There is the evidence of P.W. No. 3 to show that as a matter of fact he did cultivate the land for twelve years before the institution of this case. On the other hand, the accused has cited some witnesses to prove his allegation. The most important of those witnesses is the karnam, D.W. No. 1. But as the learned Sessions Judge pertinently points out, it is impossible that this man should have known whether the 1st accused did cultivate the land or not. I think that fact is clearly made out. Upon these facts there can be no doubt that Exhibit J is a false document. The 1st accused has been convicted both under Sections 467 and 471 and sentenced altogether for three years' rigorous imprisonment. It is argued that if he was a forger and if he is rightly convicted of forgery, he could not at the same time be convicted of the offence of using that forged document. In support of this contention reliance is placed on a ruling, Queen-Empress v. Umrao Lal 23 Ak 84. That ruling does seem to bear out the contention of the learned Counsel for the accused, but I am unable to agree with the learned Judge's interpretation of Section 471. Mr. Justice Aikman says at page 85 of the report that the words in Section 471 shall be punished in the same manner as if he had forged such a document,' point to the conclusion that the section applies only to the 'case of persons other than the forger himself. With all respect to the learned Judge it does not seem to me that those words bear that interpretation. Those words only mean that punishment will be the same as for an offence of forgery under the section previously mentioned. The Legislature might have used a different language, but I do not think the language which has been used bears any other meaning than what I have stated.
5. As regards the case of the 2nd and 3rd accused, they are relations of the 1st accused. They knew both the parties and there can be no doubt that since Exhibit J which is attested by them is a false document, they were parties to the conspiracy. The convictions and the sentences must be upheld and the appeal dismissed.
6. I agree.