1. I do not think there is sufficient evidence in this case to prove that the Exhibit A is a false document. The Sessions Judge has relied upon some roobakarees which, on their bare production only, cannot be treated as evidence. Excluding these, the conviction stands mainly upon two grounds: 1st, on a comparison of the seal upon the Exhibit A with that of another document proved to have been executed by the Rajah of Cachar--the Sessions Judge is of opinion that the two impressions of the seals do not tally; 2ndly, the appearance of the paper shows that it is not so old as it purports to be.
2. These grounds are, in my opinion, insufficient to support the conviction. It may be that the Rajah changed his seal, and this circumstance may account for the difference between the impressions of the seals.
3. The second ground is based upon mere conjecture. Then, even granting that the Exhibit A is a forgery, I do not think that it has been shown that the appellants knew it to be so. Further, on accepting all the facts as correctly found by the Sessions Judge, I do not think that the appellants are guilty of any offence under the Penal Code. The facts are simply these: The appellants in order to get a recognition from a Settlement Officer that they are entitled to the title of 'Loskur,' produced a sunnud purporting to have been granted by the Rajah of Cachar. The document is found not to be genuine. The question is, supposing the appellants used this document knowing it to be not genuine with intent to obtain recognition of their alleged 'Loskur' title from the Settlement Officer, is it an offence under Section 471 of the Indian Penal Code or under any other penal law of the country? The Sessions Judge found the appellants guilty under Section 471 of the Indian Penal Code. In using this document, if they had no fraudulent or dishonest intention, they cannot be guilty under Section 471 of the Indian Penal Code.
4. Section 24 of the Code defines the word 'dishonestly.' It is to the following effect: 'Whoever does anything with the intention of causing wrongful gain to one person, or wrongful loss to another person, is said to do that thing 'dishonestly.'' Now, the intention of the appellants was not to cause wrongful gain, or wrongful loss to any person.
5. 'The word 'fraudulently' is thus defined in Section 25 of the Code: 'A person is said to do a thing 'fraudulently' if he does that thing with intent to defraud, but not otherwise.'
6. In this case evidently the intention of the appellants was to produce a false belief in the mind of the Settlement Officer that they are entitled to the dignity of 'Loskur,' and in order to produce this belief they produced the sunnud 'A,' which has been found to be not genuine. Without defining precisely what would constitute 'an intent to defraud,' we are clear that it cannot be held in this case that the appellants produced the sunnud to 'defraud' the Settlement Officer, and therefore it cannot be said that they used the document 'fraudulently,' as defined in Section 25 of the Indian Penal Code. We are, therefore, unable to agree with the Sessions Judge that the appellants are guilty under Section 471 of the Indian Penal Code. Nor does the act of the appellants in our opinion amount to any other offence. We, therefore, set aside the conviction and acquit the appellants.
7. In the appeal by Waris Meah, which is against the conviction by the same Sessions Judge, the same question of law arises. For the reasons given in Appeal No. 87 we are of opinion in this case also that, taking the facts found by the lower Court as correct, the appellant is not guilty of any offence. The Sessions Judge has convicted the appellant of using a document which he finds to be a valuable security. The document in question in this case is a sunnud of a similar description conferring a certain dignity upon the grantee. A document of this description cannot, in our opinion, be held to be a valuable security, as defined in the Indian Penal Code. We, therefore, set aside the conviction of the appellant in this appeal also.