997 vs Gokak on 30 August, 2018

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997 vs Gokak on 30 August, 2018
Delhi District Court
997 vs Gokak on 30 August, 2018
IN THE COURT OF SH. ASHU GARG,
CHIEF METROPOLITAN MAGISTRATE (CENTRAL), DELHI
CC No. 175/2
RC- 1(S)/97
Unique Case ID No. 02401R0031531998
New Case No. 37/2016
CNR No. DLCT02-000051-1998
Date of Institution:
20.08.1998 [20 years old]
Date of reserving judgment:
07.07.2018
Date of pronouncement:
30.08.2018
In re:
State
through Central Bureau of Investigation
versus
P. Damodaran
S/o Late Sh. N Parthsarthy
R/o. 4-A, Kalyana Sundaram Compound,
Methu Street, Betanayampuram,
Madurai, Tamil Nadu,
Earlier at: Door No. 30A, Amman Koil,
Street, Samayanullur, Madurai District,
Tamil Nadu.
CC No. 175/2, RC- 1(S)/97
JUDGEMENT:
Page 1 of 43
1. The accused P. Damodaran has been facing trial for commission of offences punishable under
section 471 and 420/511 IPC, with the allegations that he had used a forged document as genuine
and had attempted to cheat the Department of Post/Communication by submitting a letter, claimed
to have been issued in his favour by Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma, the then Hon'ble President of India
directing to set aside two disciplinary proceedings against him and to accept his tribal status as
'Scheduled Tribe'.
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997 vs Gokak on 30 August, 2018
2. The present regular case (RC) was registered by the CBI on 19.02.97 against the accused under
section 120-B IPC read with sections 465/468/471 and 420/511 IPC, on the basis of a complaint
dated 27.01.97 of Sh. S.S.K. Rao, Asst. Director General (Vigilance), Department of Posts, Vigilance
Section, New Delhi. The accused was working in the Department of Posts as Postal Assistant and
was posted at Madurai who was facing two departmental disciplinary proceedings. The matter
revolves around 'photocopy' of a letter dated 28.11.1996, purportedly issued by Dr. Shankar Dayal
Sharma, the then Hon'ble President of India, addressed to Sh. Beni Prasad Verma, the then Minister
of Communication, directing to set aside two disciplinary proceedings initiated against the accused
and to accept his tribal status as Scheduled Tribe. This letter bearing No. SD/96 dated 28.11.96
bears the facsimile signature of Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma, the then Hon'ble President of India. It is
reproduced as under (with all language errors intact):
[National Emblem] [RASHTRAPATI] [BHARAT GANTANTRA] PRESIDENT
REPUBLIC OF INDIA No.:- SD/96 Rashtrapati Bhavan Date:- 28 November 96 New
Delhi 110 004.
Ref: Representations of Sri. P. Damodaran, Postal Assistant, Munichalai of Madurai
Postal division in Tamilnadu.
£££££ The disciplinary proceedings against Sri. P. Damodaran, by divisional head on 31-1-94,
8-2-96 are hereby set aside. The community status of the official is accepted as Scheduled Tribe.
Minister(C) should direct orders immediately without giving any room accordingly with intimation
to the above official.
[FACSIMILE SIGNATURES "S. D. Sharma"] (SHANKAR DAYAL SHARMA) Mr. Beni Prsad Verma
Minster of Communication Sansad Bhavan, New Delhi 110 001.
3. A 'photocopy' of this letter had been received by the Department of Communication, which had
been "attested" on 28.11.1996, by some unknown person in green pen at its bottom. Since the letter
on the face of it appeared to be a forged document, the authorities of the Department and Ministry
of Communication informed the Secretariat of the Hon'ble President of India, which in turn
confirmed that no such letter had been issued by that Office. The Ministry of Communication
therefore examined the matter and found it appropriate to report the matter to the CBI for
registration of the case and investigation. The complaint was therefore made through the Vigilance
Department. After registration of the regular case, investigation was carried out by the CBI, during
which the forged photocopy of the letter dated 28.11.1996 was collected from the concerned
department. The entire chain, through which the letter in question travelled through various
departments, was ascertained and the relevant witnesses were examined. The witnesses from the
President Secretariat were examined who confirmed that no such letter had been issued or signed by
the Hon'ble President of India. The specimen of manual typewriter was also obtained from the
President Secretariat. Search was conducted at the residence of the accused, during which two more
such photocopies of the same letter were recovered. Admitted signatures of the accused were
obtained in the form of various applications made by him to his department, which were duly seized.
Specimen handwriting of the accused was also obtained and sent for forensic examination to the
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997 vs Gokak on 30 August, 2018
CFSL. Statements of persons/colleagues of the accused were recorded who were acquainted with his
handwriting and signatures. However, the investigating officer could not procure the 'original forged
letter', 'photocopy' of which had been received by the Department of Communication, nor could it be
established as to who had sent the letter to the Department. It could not be established that any
benefit had been drawn by the accused and therefore, the CBI chose to file a closure report in the
present case on 20.08.1998.
4. However, vide detailed order dated 26.11.1999, the court rejected the prayer of the CBI and
instead, took cognizance of the offences punishable under section 471 and 420/511 IPC, while
ordering summoning of the accused.
5. The accused appeared and charge for the offences punishable under section 471 IPC and 420/511
IPC was directed to be framed against him vide order dated 07.08.2002, and the charge was so
framed on 19.09.2002, to which he pleaded not guilty and claimed trial.
6. At the trial, prosecution examined 26 witnesses in support of its case. These include the
investigating officers of the CBI (PW-25, PW- 22 and PW-26), the officials of the Department /
Ministry of Communication (PW-2, PW-3, PW-4, PW-7, PW-8, PW-9, PW-13, PW-14, PW-17 and
PW-1), the officials of the President Secretariat (PW-5, PW-6 and PW-20), Postal Officers from
Madurai and other officials (PW-10, PW-11, PW-12, PW-16, PW-18, PW-19 and PW-23), witness of
search proceedings (PW-21), CFSL expert (PW-24) and official from Madurai Tehsil (PW-15).
7. Starting with the investigating officers, PW-25 Sh. N S Virk deposed proved the RC Ex. PW-25/A
registered on the complaint Ex. PW-1/E, the investigation of which was assigned to him. The
complaint was enclosed with the copy of letter dated 28.11.1996 Ex. PW-1/E1 with marking
"attested" and below it, signature appeared with date 28.11.1996. He collected documents from
Postal Department, Ministry of Communication, Sanchar Bhawan, New Delhi vide receipt memo
dated 28.02.1997 Ex. PW-1/F and through Sh. S K S Rao, Assistant Director General (Vig.),
Department of Post (PW-1 herein). The documents, that is, letter dated 01.01.1997 Ex. PW-1/F1,
letter dated 09.12.1996 Ex. PW-1/F2, letter Ex. PW-1/F3, another photocopy of the forged letter Ex.
PW-1/A and Ex. PW-1/B, letter dated 03.08.1997 Ex. PW-1/D1, letter dated 04.02.1997 Ex. PW1/F3, fax dated 20.01.1997 of letter dated 28.11.1996 Ex. PW-1/F/4 were seized. He again visited the
office of Assistant Director General on 18.03.1997 and took over the photocopy of letter dated
28.11.1996 Ex. PW-1/H1 purported to have been written by the President of India said to be original,
vide receipt memo Ex. PW-1/H. On 19.03.1997, he again visited Sanchar Bhawan, New Delhi and
took copy of VIP diary entry No. 4528 dated 09.12.1996 Ex. PW-4/A from Sh. Sobhan Singh, LDC
(PW-4 herein), Department of Telecommunication vide receipt memo Ex. PW-25/B. He examined
the concerned officials like PW-1, PW-2, PW-3, PW-4 etc. and recorded their statements with regard
to handing of the relevant documents/papers of this case. On 09.04.1997, he visited the President
Secretariat, New Delhi and also P-1 Section of the Secretariat. He contacted Sh. Khushi Ram (PW-6
herein), the then Section Officer of P-1 Section of President Secretariat, who told that it had not been
issued from that section and on the face of it, was a plain forgery. The Assistant namely Bhaskar
(PW-5 herein) and Surat Rao were also questioned. The specimen of manual typewriter available in
P-1 section was also taken through PW-5. During cross-examination, he stated that he had done
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proper handing over and taking over of files, that he did not feel the need of enquiring about the
dispatch register, that he did not meet Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma, the then Hon'ble President of
India, that he had not sought specimen signatures or admitted signatures of the then President of
India from the Presidential Secretariat, that he had not taken any permission from Court before
taking samples from the typewriter.
8. PW-22 Sh. Suman Kumar took over the investigation from PW- 25 on 05.05.1997. He visited the
office of Private Secretary to the Ministry of Communication, Sh. Pradeep Bhatnagar, IAS (PW-9
herein) and examined him along with Section Officer Sh. Ram Krishan Gupta (PW-7 herein). He
applied for search warrants to conduct the search at the residence of accused P. Damodran at his
residence, arranged for two witnesses for conducting search. On 30.05.1997 he visited the office of
Post Master General alongwith his officers, met Smt. Noorjahan, Post Master General (PW-19
herein) and conducted the search at the residence of accused in the presence of witnesses namely
Sh. K Vajravel, Inspector Central Excise and Customs, Madurai, (PW-21 herein), Sh. S
Bhuminathan, UGC, Central Excise, Madurai and Sh. G. Muthukrishnan, Retd. Bill Collector
Municipality. He seized two files Ex. PW-21/C (colly.) and Ex. PW-21/C (colly.) vide memo Ex.
PW-21/A. He interrogated accused and examined some witnesses in Madurai. He seized from Sh. T
R Krishnarao, Sub Post Master, Munnichalai Road, Madurai (PW- 10 herein) various applications
Ex. PW-10/C to Ex. PW-10/G of different dates. He took specimen writings of accused Ex. PW-22/A
(Colly.) on 31.05.1997 in the presence of witness Sh. T Mani, Sri Signaller, Madurai Jn. Southern
Railway. The documents and specimen writings of accused were sent to CFSL, Delhi for opinion. In
his cross-examination, he could not recall how many times he had visited the office of PW-9, or the
date on which he had moved application for search warrant.
9. PW-26 Sh. Prithvi Singh carried out further investigation. He visited and conducted investigation
at Madurai and its surrounding areas as well as Delhi. He proved receipt memo dated 11.03.1997 Ex.
PW-1/G vide which he had seized documents Ex. PW-1/G-1 and PW- 1/G-2 from PW-1. He also
obtained letter dated 27.10.1997 of Sh. N Subhramaniun, Head Master, Government Higher
Secondary School, Samayanallur, Madurai addressed to him enclosing zerox copy of the TC issued
by the Head Master St. Marry High School Madurai Ex. PW-26/A and enclosures Ex. PW-26/A1 and
Ex. PW-26/A2. He also proved letter Ex. PW-1/J containing enclosures
petitions/representation/certificates etc. Ex. PW-1/J-1, J-2, J-3, J-4, J-5 and J-6. He recorded the
statements of witnesses of this case. He tried to find out and procure the original forged letter dated
28.11.1996 but could not succeed, opining that the original might have been destroyed by the
accused who retained photocopy which was used by him. On completion of the investigation of this
case, he filed the report dated 20.08.1998 Ex. PW-26/C praying for closure of the case for want of
sufficient evidence. He filed this report in this Hon'ble Court, which was not accepted. During his
cross-examination, he stated that the accused did not receive any benefit from the purportedly
forged document. He had not recorded the statement of former President Sh. Shankar Dayal
Sharma in the present case nor enquired from him whether any such letter had been signed by him.
He had also not collected the sample handwritings/signatures or admitted handwritings of Sh.
Shankar Dayal Sharma. He had not taken any permission from the Court for drawing the
handwriting samples of accused.
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10. PW-2 Sh. Raj Kumar Sharma was LDC in Department of Telecom, Ministry of Communication
who was to receive dak. He deposed about receipt of a photocopy of the letter purported to have
been sent by Sh. Shankar Dayal Sharma Ex. PW-1/E1 by ordinary post, along with Ex. PW-1/F3, Ex.
PW-1/B, Fax Ex. PW-1/F4, photocopy of letter Ex. PW-1/H1, photocopy of letter vide Ex. PW- 2/A.
In his cross examination he stated that the copy that he received was only a fax copy and did not
contain any original signature and he did not receive any original document.
11. PW-3 Sh. Vikram Singh was posted as Peon in Doorshanchar Vibhag. who had put stamp of
receipt on letters received in dak and then put it before the concerned Clerk. In his cross
examination, he stated that the letters which had been received by him were received alongwith the
covers but the covers were not seized from him by the investigating agency.
12. PW-4 Sh. Soban Singh was LDC in office of the Minister of Communication, Sanchar Bhawan
under Sh. Beni Prasad Verma, the then Minister for Communication. who used to diarise VIP
letters, received from outside. In all the concerned documents above, he proved the stamp of diary
of the office, During cross-examination, he stated that the letters were all photocopies.
13. PW-7 Sh. Ram Kishan Gupta was Section Officer in the office of Sh. Pradeep Bhatnagar (PW-9)
Private Secretary to the then Minister of Communication Sh. Beni Prasad. The questioned letter /
document Ex. PW-1/E1 was received by him on 04.12.1996 thorugh receipt clerk, which he put up
before PW-9. He proved letter Ex. PW- 1/A 09.12.1996 of PW-9 to the Minister of Communication
addressed to the Secretary, President of India, Rastrapati Bhawan forwarding the photocopy of the
letter received in his office. He also proved fax message Ex. PW-1/F4 bearing rubber stamp of the
office and the dispatch diary no. 4528 dated 21.01.1997. In his cross examination, he could not say
as to who had received that letter or from where the fax was received.
14. PW-8 Sh. Anil Vinayak Gokak was the Secretary, Department of Telecom, Ministry of
Communication at Delhi. Letter Ex. PW-1/F1 was sent to him by S. S. Sohoni, the Secretary,
President of India (PW- 20 herein) in connection with letter in question along with letter Ex.
PW-1/E1. Thereafter, he sent letter dated 3/8.01.1997 to Mr. Sohoni with a copy to Sh. RUS.
Prashad, Secretary Post. Purported letter of Hon'ble President of India dated 28.11.1996 sent to him
was examined by him and he found that letter was not genuine because its contents and the form
were not in accordance with normal practice and procedure. In his cross examination, he stated that
he had not seen the signatures of President of India during the normal course of his employment.
He further stated that he had personally not investigated the authenticity of the purported letter.
However, on bare perusal of purported letter, he formed opinion that such letter could not have
been signed by the President, as the format of the letter was not regular format of the President and
the Minister was not sitting in the Sansad Bhawan. The English language used in the letter also give
impression that it was a forged one.
15. PW-9 Sh. Pradeep Bhatnagar was the Private Secretary to the Minister of Communication,
Government of India. The photocopy of letter in question E. PW-1/B was put up to him, on reading
of which it appeared to be a forgery because the language used in that letter was not the usual
official language and there were spelling and grammatical mistakes. He sent the said letter to the
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Secretary, President of India for his notice and for appropriate action and copy of this letter was sent
to Secretary (Post) with a request that the matter may be enquired by Vigilance Department. On
20.01.1997 fax message was received in the Ministry and the same was forwarded to Minister of
Communications office on 21.01.1997. This message was put up to him on 22.01.1997 and his
endorsement was recorded on Ex. PW1/F/4. In his cross examination, he stated that whenever any
letter was dispatched from his office, the date of dispatch was written on the letter.
16. PW-13 Sh. J K Tiwari was working as LDC in the Vigilance Section, Department of Post. He had
made an endorsement on letter Ex. PW-1/A regarding receipt of the letter in Vigilance Section on
10.12.1996. After making endorsement, he sent the letter to ASB (V). He has proved letter Ex.
PW-1/D1 relating to the receipt of letter on 10.01.1997. In his cross examination, he stated that Ex.
PW-4/A dak register was not in his handwriting and he also did not know the writing of the person
who had made entries therein.
17. PW-14 Sh. J P Srivastava was Principal Private Secretary to the Secretary Department of Post,
Ministry of Communication. He identified letter Ex. PW-1/A dated 09.12.1996 alongwith its
enclosures, copy of which had been received in his office on 09.12.1996 vide diary No. 1013-VIP/96.
This letter was put up to Secretary (Post) who made his remarks on its margin for Sr. DDG Vigilance
for enquiry and report. He also identified fax message in the handwriting of Sh. R U S Prasad, the
then Secretary (Post). During cross-examination, he stated that he had worked in the Department of
Posts for about 26 years and with Sh. R U S Prasad for about four years and three months.
18. PW-17 Sh. Naresh Chandra was the PS to Sh. A. V. Gokak, the Secretary in Ministry of
Communication in 1997. He identified letter dated 01.01.1997 Ex. PW-1/F/1 issued by Sh. S S Sohani
(PW-20 herein), the then Secretary to the President of India, addressed to Sh. A. V. Gokak. In
compliance of this direction he went to the Secretary, Ministry of Communication, alongwith this
letterand enclosures which are Ex. PW-1/F/2 and Ex. PW-1/F/3. Sh. Gokak dictated letter Ex.
PW-1/D1 dated 3/8.01.1997 to him, addressed to Sh. S S Sohani and a copy was sent to Sh. R U S
Prasad. During cross examination, he stated that he never met Sh. S S Sohani personally. He further
stated that he did not remember as to who had given letters Ex. PW-1/F1 and Ex. PW-1/D-1 to the
IO of CBI.
19. PW-1 Sh. S.S.K. Rao was working as ADG (Vigilance), Department of Post, Ministry of
Communication, who happens to be the complainant of this case on the basis of which the present
RC was registered. He deposed about the letter letter dated 09.12.1996 signed by Sh. Pradeep
Bhatnagar, PS to the Ministry of Communication addressed to Secretary of the then Hon'ble
President of India, on 11.12.1996, and its copy was received in the office of Secretary with the request
that matter may be enquired into by Vigilance Department.
The letter Ex. PW-1/A was accompanied with an enclosure which was copy of forged letter in
question. On 23.12.1996, he sent a letter Ex. PW-1/C to Smt. K Noorjahan, Post Master General,
Madurai (PW-19 herein) requesting for enquiry into the matter and report. He also identified letter
dated 01.01.1997 Ex. PW-1/E (original being Ex. PW- 1/D1) of Sh. S S Sohani addressed to Sh. A V
Gokak, through forwarding letter dated 03.01.1997 for necessary action, with enclosure Ex.
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PW1/D-2. As per decision of the department of Post, this matter was referred to CBI vide letter
dated 27.01.1997 Ex. PW- 1/E addressed to Sh. M L Sharma, Crime Director, CBI. Alongwith this
letter photocopy of forged letter dated 28.11.1996, letter dated 09.12.1996 of Sh. Pradeep Bhatnagar,
letter dated 01.01.1997 of Sh. S S Sohani and letter dated 03.01.1997 of Sh. A V Gokak were sent with
enclosures Ex. PW-1/E1 to E2, D and D2. He handed over the documents Ex. PW1/F1 to F2, Ex.
PW1/A, Ex. PW1/B, Ex. PW1/D-1 mentioned in the memo dated 28.02.1997 to CBI vide memo Ex.
PW- 1/F. On 11.03.1997 he handed over more documents Ex. PW1/G-1 to Sh. Prithvi Singh DSP, CBI
vide memo Ex. PW-1/G. Another memo dated 08.02.1996 is Ex. PW1/G-2. He handed over one
document Ex. PW1/H-1 under receipt memo dated 18.03.1997 Ex. PW-1/H to Sh. N S Virk, DSP,
CBI vide. Other letters Ex. PW-1/J was identified through which documents forwarded, that is, letter
dated 16.10.1997 of Sh. K Noorjahan PMG, representation of Sh. P Damodran to Hon'ble Sh.
Shankar Dayal Sharma, President of India, photocopy of Community Certificate dated 21.07.1989,
photocopy of reports, copy of letter dated 07.06.1995 for Sr. Superintendent, Post Office, Madurai
and copy of letter dated 14.11.1994 were submitted. During his cross examination, he stated that
though he had met Sh. Pradeep Bhatnagar once but he had not seen him on work and had never
seen him signing personally or in front of his eyes. He stated that he received a number of
communication from him through his officers. Ex. PW-1/A was not signed in his presence. He
further stated that the copy received by him was only a photocopy and not the original.
20. PW-5 Sh. Bhaskar was in the office of the President Secretariat and posted in public one (P1)
section. CBI officer took specimen writing of manual typewriter number 519740 make Remington
being used in the office P1 of President Secretariat in his presence on 09.04.1997 and in the
presence of his colleague Sh, Surat Ram, vide document Ex. PW-5/A.
21. PW-6 Sh. Khushi Ram was Section Officer and was posted in P1 section of the President
Secretariat where the petitions received were pertaining to the Central Minister and the service
matter of employee of the Central Ministry. He stated that the two letters Ex. PW-1/E1 and Ex.
PW-1/F3 were forged letters as in the genuine letters of the Hon'ble President of India, no number
was mentioned whereas in these letters numbers were mentioned. Further, the signatures of the
Hon'ble President of India are not made on facsimile but in these letters, the signatures were
facsimile. Again, such letters were dealt with at Secretary level and were sent to his section for
sending to the concerned Ministry. He informed that these letters were not typed in the office of the
President Secretariat. He proved memo Ex. PW-6/A, vide which documents Ex. PW-6/A1 and Ex.
PW-6/A2 were handed to CBI. During cross examination, he stated that Ex. PW-1/E1 and Ex.
PW-1/F3 both were photocopies and not originals. These photocopies were received in his office but
were not prepared in his presence.
22. PW-20 Sh. Shrinivas Rao Shridhar Sohoni, deposed that he received letter dated 09.12.1996
from the Private Secretary to the then Ministry of Communications, Government of India,
forwarding there with copy of a letter in question. He identified the letters Ex. PW-1/F2 and Ex.
PW-1/F3. On reaching the conclusion following suitable inquiries that the document dated
28.11.1996 forwarded by Sh. Pradeep Bhatnagar was not a document signed by the then President
Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma, he wrote to then Secretary Ministry of Communications, Government of
India as per his DO letter of 01.01.1997, Ex. PW1/F-1, with enclosures Ex. PW1/F-2 to F-3. In his
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letter, he conveyed that it would be advisable to have a specialized investigating agency- CBI to go
into the matter. He identified letter Ex. PW-1/D-1 sent by Sh. A V Gokak dated 3/8.01.1997 to Sh. R
U S Prasad and stated that the letter dated 28.11.1996 was never sent to Sh. Beni Prasad Verma,
Minister of Communications, Sansad Bhawan, New Delhi by the then President, Dr. Shankar Dayal
Sharma or the President Secretariat. During cross examination, he stated that the enclosures of Ex.
PW1/F1 that is Ex. PW1/F2 and Ex. PW1/F3 were photocopies.
23. PW-21 Sh. K Vajraval, was the witness to the search proceedings dated 30.05.1997, to the house
of accused at Second Street, Roman Mission, Meryillam, Ymr Patti, Dingigal District,
Mannerthirumali, Tamil Nadu. The house was searched and some documents were found and seized
vide seizure memo Ex. PW-21/A. The identified the files seized Ex. PW-21/B and Ex. PW-21/C.
During cross examination, he stated his senior did not give him any written instruction and he was
intimated orally. He stated that he had read the seizure list before signing it and what was stated in
the seizure was correct wherein photocopies of the letters, representations sent by P Damodran to
various authorities including photocopies of letter dated 18.11.1996 of the Hon'ble President of India
to the Minister of Communication etc., were recovered.
24. PW-10 Sh. T R Krishan Rao was working as a Post Master in Sub Post Office, Munichalia Road,
Madhurai, who knew accused P Damodran as he was working in the same Sub Office as Postal
Assistant. He identified the handwriting of endorsement on letter Ex. PW-10/A (copy of letter in
question as recovered from the house of accused) to be that of the accused. He had handed over
applications Ex. PW-10/C-G dated 24.01.1997, 21.02.1997, 26.03.1997, 15.04.1997 and 08.05.1997
addressed to Sub Post Master, Munichalia Road, Post Office Madhurai by accused P Damodran, all
written and signed by accused, which were handed over to CBI vide seizure memo Ex. PW-10/H.
During cross examination, he stated that he did not know to whom Ex. PW-10/A was given and
whether any action was taken on that letter.
25. PW-11 Sh. P Baskaran also knew accused P Damodran, who was the Postal Clerk there. He
deposed that accused P Damodran had given a paper to him and asked him to get a xerox of the
same. He identified that letter Ex. PW-10/A to be the one given to him for getting a xerox. He had
xeroxed it and gave back to him. Letter Ex. PW10/A was also given to him for getting it faxed, which
he did vide receipt Ex. PW-11/A from Madhuri Mahal Telegraph Office.
26. PW-12 Sh. T Kalimuthu, was working as a Jr. Telegraph Officer. He did not know Mr. P
Damodran. The explained the procedure for sending fax and identified Ex. PW-11/A, being a receipt
No. 247 of Telegraph office in the handwriting of the dealing Clerk Smt. Geeta Mani, which was not
otherwise legible.
27. PW-16 Sh. O Veluchamy, deposed that he knew accused P Damodaran, who was the Postman
working with him, and knew his handwriting and signatures as they had worked together. He
identify the words "attested" on Ex. PW1/H-1 which 'approximately' looked like the handwriting of
accused P Damodaran. The did not identify initials/signatures with the date below it or on Ex.
PW1/F-3, Ex. PW1/B, but identified his writing on Ex. PW-10/A.
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28. PW-18 Sh. K Vallaichamy also deposed that he know P. Damodran, Postal Assistant as he was
working with him at Madhurai Post Office. He however did not support the prosecution case and
stated that he could not identify handwriting of accused P Damodran on Ex. PW-10/A or other
documents on record. He was cross examined by the Ld. Special PP for CBI.
29. PW-19 Ms. K Noorjehan, Principal Chief Post Master General, Maharashtra, Mumbai, deposed
that she was Post Master General Madurai, from 24.08.1995 to July 2000, and identified letter
dated 04.02.1997 Ex. PW1/F-3. The concerned record related to the personal file and disciplinary
proceedings against P Damodran, Postal Assistant were proved by her. She also identified the letter
vide which the mercy petition Ex. PW1/J-2 of P Damodran, Postal Assistant, Madurai addressed to
the Hon'ble Sh. Shankar Dayal Sharma, President of Republic of India, Rastrapati Bhawan, New
Delhi had been forwarded vide Ex. PW1/J-1. During cross examination, she stated that the letter Ex.
PW1/F-3 was issued on the request of one Sh. S S K Rao.
30. PW-23 Sh. M Chandra Mohan also know accused P Damodran, as they had done postal training
together for Postman at Sr. Superintendent Post Offices-2. He knew the handwriting and signatures
of P Damodran as he had seen him writing and signing during training period and also used to
received letters written by him. He identified letter dated 28.11.1996, Ex. PW-10/A in part. He
however identified the handwriting of accused on letter dated 28.11.1996 Ex. PW-1/H1. He stated
that the date 28.11.1996 below the initials in green ink were in the handwriting of accused P
Damodran. During cross examination, he stated that he had not received any letter prior to 1996
from P Damodran or even subsequently.
31. PW-24 Sh. V K Khanna was the scientific expert from CFSL. Documents contained specimen
writings, questioned writings and admitted writings alongwith enclsoures had been submitted to
CFSL by CBI, which he examined. He gave his opinion that several specimen
signatures/handwritings matched with the questioned writings. He proved his report Ex. PW24/A.
He also opined that questioned xerox matters containing Ashoka Emblem and English and Hindi
writings have originated from the same source. During cross examination, he stated that fascimile
signatures were not written in hand and that was why no opinion could be formed as about line
quality etc.. He stated that on the basis of photocopies, no definite opinion could be given and only a
probable opinion was given subject to verification from the original documents.
32. PW-15 Sh. M Sivagnanam was Tehsildar, Madurai on 31.07.1993 and at that time, he was
Personal Assistant to the Divisional Officer (Revenue) Officer, Madurai. He saw document Ex.
PW1/J-3, which was a community certificate being a photocopy bearing No. 156933. He stated that
the signature with date appearing on this document did not belong to him, although the stamp in his
name was appearing. That certificate was not issued by him as stated.
33. Statement of the accused under Section 313 CrPC was recorded on 30.06.2017 and 21.02.2018,
wherein he denied the allegations and pleaded innocence. Though he admitted that he was working
as a Postal Assistant at Madurai but denied most of the other facts deposed by the witnesses. He
took stand that he had preferred a mercy petition before the Hon'ble President of India through his
immediate senior, the Senior Superintendent of Posts, who had refused to accept it, upon which he
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directly forwarded his petition to Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma, the then Hon'ble President of India.
He however remained in denial mode with respect to all the other allegations and claimed that he
had been falsely implicated because he had made complaints against the higher officials of the
postal department. Though he stated that he wished to lead evidence in defence, yet he did not lead
any defence evidence in his support.
34. It is in these circumstances, Ld. Spl. PP for the CBI has argued that the prosecution has been
able to prove its case against the accused beyond reasonable doubt, as all the witnesses have
supported its case on material counts and there is no material contradiction in their testimony. It is
submitted that the prosecution has lead evidence on all aspects of the matter and there is no reason
to discard the testimony of the witnesses. Written submissions have been furnished by the
prosecution, reiterating the facts and evidence and it is argued by Ld. Spl. PP that the offence stands
proved against the accused, whose handwriting has been identified by the witnesses and the
evidence has established that he was the only beneficiary of the offence which was committed by
him.
35. On the other hand, Ld. Defence Counsel has raised various stands in his oral arguments as well
as written submissions, contending that the accused deserves to be acquitted, as the prosecution has
failed to prove the basic ingredients of the offences for which the accused has been charged. It is
pointed out that the CBI, which is now seeking conviction of the accused, had initially filed a 'closure
report' holding that it did not have sufficient evidence to prosecute him. It is submitted that even if
the entire material on record is considered, that would not establish as to who had prepared the
allegedly forged letter, when was the letter forged, who had sent the letter to the Ministry of
Communication and who had attested the same. It is pointed out that the original forged letter has
never been recovered from the possession of accused or at his instance, and the case is based only on
photocopy of a letter, which is neither a primary evidence nor a secondary evidence, and therefore,
no conviction can be based on such photocopy of a document. It is then submitted that the evidence
does not establish that any forgery was committed or any forged document was used as genuine and
in the absence of any forgery, no offence under section 467 or 471 IPC would be attracted. It is
pointed out that the maker of the document, the then Hon'ble President of India, has never been
examined, nor his admitted signatures taken by the IO, nor any witness has been examined who had
actually seen him writing or signing in his presence, so as to identify that the signature on the
photocopy of the document did not belong to the Hon'ble President of India. It is also pointed out
that no permission of the court was taken by the CBI while obtaining the specimen signatures of the
accused, nor such signatures were taken in the presence of magistrate, which would make the
proceedings invalid and the consequent report of CFSL inadmissible. It is then argued that no
benefit ever accrued to the accused in the present case and nobody was cheated because there is no
evidence of any wrongful gain to anyone or any wrongful loss to anyone. It is thus submitted that no
offence is made out against the accused.
36. I have considered the rival submissions and have carefully perused the material on record.
37. In a criminal trial, the burden is always on the prosecution to establish its case beyond
reasonable doubt against the accused. This burden has to be necessarily discharged by the
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prosecution and it never shifts upon the accused. The prosecution has to stand on its own legs and
lead positive evidence to establish the guilt of the accused beyond the shadow of reasonable doubt.
38. To begin with, it is seen that the accused has not disputed the fact that he had been working with
the postal department, posted at Madurai at the relevant time. He has also not disputed the fact that
he had been facing two departmental disciplinary inquiries. The proceedings of the said
departmental inquiries had been seized by the CBI, which have not been seriously disputed by the
accused, though this court has no concern with the merits of those inquiries. It is nowhere the case
of the accused that he has not been working with the said office or had not been facing the said
inquiries or that the record seized by the CBI was manipulated or forged one. PW-10, PW-11,
PW-23, PW-16 and PW-18 have deposed about the posting of the accused being the co-employees
and already knowing him. It is nowhere the case of the accused that the witnesses never worked
with him or that they could not have identified him or that they were planted or interested
witnesses.
39. Coming directly to the letter in question, which happens to be the base of the prosecution case.
Apparently, this letter, copy of which was received by the Department/Ministry of Communication,
purportedly issued by Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma, the then Hon'ble President of India to Mr. Beni
Prasad Verma, the then Minister of Communication, is a forged document, without an iota of doubt.
For that matter, even the accused has not seriously disputed this fact by claiming at any stage of the
case that this document is a genuine document actually issued by the then Hon'ble President of
India.
40. The evidence of PW-5, PW-6 and PW-20, read with the statements of PW-25, PW-22 and PW-26
would make it clear that this document is not and could not be a genuine letter issued by the highest
office of the country. PW-6 deposed that no number is mentioned in genuine letters of the Hon'ble
President of India, whereas the letter in question had been numbered. Again, he stated that the
signatures of the Hon'ble President are not made in facsimile, as were appearing on this document.
As stated by PW-6 and as confirmed by PW-5, the typewritten words on the letter were different
from the specimen typewriting obtained by the CBI from the typewriter used in the President
Secretariat. PW-20 being the then Secretary to the Hon'ble President of India categorically deposed
that the document in question was not signed by the then President of India, Dr. Shankar Dayal
Sharma. He confirmed that no such letter dated 28.11.1996 had been sent by the then President or
the President Secretariat to Sh. Beni Prasad Verma, Minister of Communication, Sansad Bhawan.
41. Even PW-8, who was then Secretary, Department of Telecommunication, Ministry of
Communication, Delhi explained that he found the letter not to be genuine because its contents and
the form were not in accordance with normal practice and procedure. He explained during
cross-examination that the letter in question could not have been signed by the President, as it had
been addressed to Sansad Bhawan, where the Office of the Minister was not located and the
language used in the letter also gave the impression that it was a forged document. PW-9, who was
posted as Private Secretary to the Minister of Communication, also confirmed that the letter
appeared to be forged on reading, because the language used therein was not the usual official
language as there were spelling and grammatical mistakes.
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42. Even otherwise, the court does not need any expert opinion to ascertain whether this letter is a
forged or genuine document. Bare perusal of the document would make it clear that this document
could not have been genuine or issued by the Hon'ble President of India. No such letter certifying
about the tribal status of a person, or clarifying that a person belongs to a scheduled tribe, or setting
aside disciplinary proceedings against a person posted as Postal Assistant, on the basis of his
representations, is issued by the Hon'ble President of Republic of India being the highest authority
of the land. Such esteemed letters and certificates are not issued for such purposes and in such
manner. The loose and informal language, also having grammatical and other mistakes, as used in
this letter, cannot be said to be the official and formal language of the highest office of the country.
43. With such material on record, there is no doubt that the said document is a forged document. No
such document existed at all in the Office of the Hon'ble President of India, nor it bore the
signatures of the Hon'ble President of India. And to establish that, one does not need to call and
examine the "maker" or "author" of such a forged document or anyone who had actually seen him
writing or signing, as being contended by the defence. It would be interesting to note that even the
accused has not questioned this position and has not even claimed that the said document was a
genuine document or that such a letter had been actually issued in his favour by the Hon'ble
President of India. It is nowhere his case that the said document was a genuine document or that its
record had been concealed from the court or deliberately removed from the President Secretariat.
No suggestion to this effect was given to any of the prosecution witnesses. In his statement recorded
under section 313 CrPC, the accused never took any specific stand and adopted a mode of denial
simplicitor qua every fact put to him. When the falsity of the Certificate is established even on the
face of it, there is no requirement of any further technical investigation through other experts or
even through any person who had actually seen the then Hon'ble President writing or signing. Even
if this document was never sent for handwriting examination or comparison with the actual
signatures of the then Hon'ble President of India, and in particular when it does not bear the actual
signatures of the Hon'ble President but only facsimile, that would not make any difference, because
the falsity of this document is established even by a bare perusal of it and in view of the records and
testimonies of the officials of the President Secretariat. This argument has to be therefore rejected.
44. Ld. Defence Counsel has however argued that this document has to be excluded from the
purview of the court on account of the fact that it is only a "photocopy" of letter whereas the original
letter was never retrieved or recovered either from the accused or at his instance or from any other
source. It is submitted that such a photocopy of a document is neither a primary evidence nor a
secondary evidence and is rather no evidence in the eyes of law. Reliance in this regard has been
placed on the judgements titled as Srichand P. Hinduja v. State [(2005) 121 DLT 1], Subhash
Harnarayanji Laddha v. State of Maharashtra [(2006) 12 SCC 545], J. Yashoda v. K. Shobha Rani
[(2007) 5 SCC 730] and V. Sujatha v. State of Kerala [(1994) Supp (3) SCC 436].
45. Well, the court does not find any merit in the stand of the Ld. Counsel for the accused that no
conviction can be based on the basis of a photocopy of a document, arguing that such a photocopy is
neither primary nor secondary evidence. It is a matter of record that the original of the letter in
question could not be retrieved or found or recovered from anywhere. In fact, the original letter had
never been 'used' as such by the offender and only a photocopy of the document had been sent to the
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Department of Communication for further action. Being a forged document, no such letter, original
or photocopy, was there, nor expected to be there, in the records of the Office/Secretariat of the
Hon'ble President of India. It must be only in personal knowledge of the offender or sender of letter
as to where the original was or the source from where he had obtained photocopy of this document.
In such a position, absence of the original forged document would not be fatal to the present case, as
existence of some "original" letter is not absolutely essential to maintain a prosecution for the
offence of forgery when the photocopy itself is a forged document. There is no force in the
contention that this document cannot be relied upon being only a "photocopy". When such
photocopy is itself a forged document, such photocopy would be primary evidence only. In
technologically advanced times, there are innumerable modes of creating copies of any document. If
such a copy is created from out of a genuine original document, such copy itself would be a forged
document, and such a copy cannot be kept out of consideration by terming it as "no evidence" under
the Indian Evidence Act. Such a forged photocopy would certainly be a 'primary evidence', which
was used by an offender with mala fide intention.
46. Guidance on this point can be taken from a judgement of the Hon'ble High Court of Delhi in
Nakul Kohli v. State [ILR (2010) 5 Del 644 (Delhi)]. It was a case where a colour-copy of visa was in
issue and the accused was aggrieved of charges framed against him for offence under section
471/474 IPC among others. It was contended that no offence under section 471 IPC can be made out
as only a photocopy was being used and for section 471 IPC, it was essential that the document
should be signed or executed. It was also contended that since the incriminating document was a
photocopy, it was not admissible in evidence in terms of sections 64 and 65 of the Indian Evidence
Act. After discussing the provisions, the Hon'ble High Court held that:
"... The contention of the learned counsel for the Petitioner that under section 464
IPC "making" a false document means signing, sealing or executing only is untenable.
I am not in agreement with the decision of the learned Single Judge of the Calcutta
High Court in Paranatha Nath (supra) [52 CrLJ 1480]. In my view, photocopying a
document, which is not genuine and with the kind of technology that is available
now, wherein exactly similar copies of the original can be made, would fall within the
ambit of making a false document. With the advent of technology, scanners and
computerized colour photocopiers produce identical copies which are exactly similar
to the original. Excluding photocopying/printing from the ambit of a "false
document" would be giving too narrow a reading to the word makes, as used in
section 464 First (a) because the said word is not limited by the subsequent words
signs, seals or executes. If the word makes, was to confine to signing or executing,
then there was no need of introducing this word in the said Section...."
It was further held that:
"The contention of the learned counsel that he should be discharged at this stage for
the offences under section 471 and 474 IPC as the document is a photocopy and thus
a secondary evidence, is also not tenable, because in a given case where a photocopy
is used as the primary offending article, the same would be the primary evidence for
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the purpose of trial of the said case."
47. Though this court is not unmindful of the fact that the said judgment was in context of an order
framing charges and the trial court was directed to go into the issue as well, yet, this court finds no
reason to take another view. The offender had 'used' a photocopy of a document by submitting it to
his department, with clear intention that action should be taken on this letter in terms of the content
thereof.
The original must be in his possession or knowledge, which he had sufficient time to conceal or
destroy. The actual original existed nowhere at all. It would also be possible that the original was a
genuine document/letter head and photocopy had been created by superimposing some part over
the genuine part and create a forged photocopy (though it was not so in this case). In such a case, to
hold that no conviction can be based on such a 'photocopy' would give unreasonable results, which
would be inconsistent with the object the law seeks to achieve. When the photocopied material is
itself a forged document which has been used as genuine, it can be nothing but a primary evidence
only for the purpose of trial of this case. The letter Ex. PW-1/H1, as submitted by the offender before
the department, as proved by various witnesses, is a primary evidence, being the original forged
document that had been used for a particular purpose. The offender had also "attested" this
document in original ink before sending it to the department. The offender had apparently done
everything which was possible to commit the offence, though he was prevented from doing so
because of the alertness of the concerned officials. The purpose of the offender was only to cheat the
Department as he wanted the officials to act in a particular manner under a fraudulent or dishonest
belief and under a deception that the letter was genuine. The Department might have proceeded to
drop or set aside the disciplinary inquiries against the accused if they were not so deceived. They
were only prevented from doing so on account of their alertness. Therefore it is clear that the
offender had 'used' a forged document for the purpose of cheating and had actually attempted to
cheat the Department of Communication.
48. The judgements relied upon by the accused would not be of any help to him. It is not the case
that the prosecution is relying upon some forged document which had been used, distinct from a
forged photocopy used by the accused. It is not that there exists some other original forged
document, only photocopy of which is on record, which has not been proved as per law. These
judgements revolve around their own sets of facts and circumstances and are clearly distinguishable.
There is no question of leading any secondary evidence in the present case as the 'forged photocopy',
as used by the offender and as proved on record, itself is in the nature of a primary evidence and not
secondary evidence to be brought under section 65 of the Indian Evidence Act.
49. However, the court cannot ignore the fact that the material on record is not sufficient to
establish that the said forged document was created or prepared 'by the accused'. The original
document was never recovered from the possession of the accused or at his instance. No instrument
of creating such a document has been recovered from him. Though similar letter-heads were
recovered from his possession, one also bearing his handwriting, during the search conducted by the
CBI officials, yet there is nothing to show that the original forged document had been created by
him. It was primarily for this reason that no charges have been framed against the accused for
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commission of the offence under section 468 IPC. The original forged letter bears only the facsimile
of the signatures of the Hon'ble President of India which could not have been compared by the
signatures or handwriting of the accused.
50. As per section 471 of the IPC, whosoever fraudulently or dishonestly uses as genuine any
document or electronic record which he knows or has reason to believe to be a forged document or
electronic record, shall be punished in the same manner as if he had forged such document or
electronic record. In the present case, it is clear that the document in question was not genuine and
was a false document.
51. Accused cannot now claim that he got no 'benefit' out of it. It was rather the alertness of the
concerned officials that the accused was prevented from getting any 'benefit' out of that letter. If the
accused had submitted and relied upon that document, he cannot say that he had submitted the
document just for fun and he would not have got any benefit out of it on the disciplinary proceedings
pending against him. The offence of use of a forged document as genuine would be complete and it
would not get negated on the ground that accused could not get any actual benefit out of it. Again, it
does not lie in the mouth of the accused to say that he did not know or had any reason to believe the
said document to be a forged document. A bare perusal of the document would show that it is a false
document which could not have been issued by the highest office of the country. There are
grammatical and spelling errors in the said letter. Such esteemed certificates issued by the highest
office of the country are never sent in such a manner or contain such a language. It is only because
no such actual benefit could be gained by the accused that he has been charged only with the offence
of attempt to cheat and not cheating as such. This ground is therefore liable to be rejected.
52. The accused has then not seriously disputed the travelling of the said letter within the
Department of Posts, Ministry of Communication, Vigilance Department and the President
Secretariat. The evidence of PW-1, PW-2, PW-3, PW-4, PW-7, PW-8, PW-9, PW- 13, PW-14 and
PW-17 can be relied in this regard. Though these witnesses were cross-examined on various points,
primarily as to the admissibility of documents being photocopies, yet no serious dispute has been
raised with respect to receipt of the letter in question in the Departments and subsequent
proceedings internally thereupon. It is nowhere the case of the accused these witnesses deposed
about something beyond the ordinary course of business of their respective departments and in the
absence to conclude anything to the contrary, the court has no reason to disbelieve their version.
53. PW-2 was the LDC in the Department of Telecom and it was his duty to receive the dak. He
deposed about receipt of the letter and other documents in question by 'ordinary post'. PW-3 was
the dak peon who had put the stamp of the office with date and placed before the concerned LDC.
PW-4 put the diary number on the letter and sent it to the concerned Department. PW-7 was the
section officer in the office of PW-9, the Private Secretary to the Minister of Communication Sh.
Beni Prasad who received the said letter from the receipt clerk and put up before PW-9. The letter
was received by PW- 14 being the Principal Private Secretary to the Secretary, Department of Post,
Ministry of Communication. PW-9 formed an opinion on reading of the letter that it was a case of
forgery due to spelling and grammatical mistakes and because the language in the letter was not the
usual official language. He therefore sent the letter to PW-20 being the Ssecretary to the President of
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India and also to PW-8 being the Secretary, Department of Telecom for appropriate action/inquiry.
While concluding that the said letter had not been issued by the President or the President
Secretariat, he wrote to PW-8 being the Secretary, Department of Telecommunication for suitable
action. PW- 8 directed his Private Secretary PW-17 who carried out his instructions. PW-13 received
the letter in Vigilance Section. The matter reached to PW-1 being the Director- General (Vigilance)
who obtained report of PW-19 and subsequently filed the complaint, on the basis of which the
present RC was registered.
54. Well, the accused, despite being in a complete denial mode in his statement under section 313
CrPC, never raised any substantive defence during the cross-examination of the above witnesses. It
is nowhere his case that no such letter had been received by the Department or travelled amongst
the said departments or was inquired in particular sections. It is nowhere his case that these
witnesses had deposed falsely against him on account of any previous enmity or ulterior motive. All
these witnesses merely deposed about the official correspondence being carried out in ordinary
course of official business in routine. None of them had any personal role to play with the accused or
his departmental inquiry or his service status. The court has no reason to discard their testimony on
any ground whatsoever as there is nothing to disbelieve them.
55. Most of the documents available on record are original documents as seized by the CBI, though
these witnesses had only proved their photocopies as received by them or their departments through
official channels.
56. Most importantly, the letter Ex. PW-1/E dated 27.01.1997 bearing the signatures of PW-1 and
the endorsements of the concerned officials in the margins, is on record along with the photocopies
Ex. PW-1/E1 and PW-1/E2. The original of Ex. PW-1/E1 and Ex. PW- 1/F3 (which is also Ex.
PW-1/B bearing the original diary stamp as received in the Department with diary number and date)
has been proved on record as Ex. PW-1/H1 (forged photocopy of the letter, as received by the
Department, bearing an unknown "attestation" in original ink and also bearing the diary number of
the concerned Department), which had been seized vide recovery memo Ex. PW- 1/H. Similarly, the
original of the letter Ex. PW-1/E2 and Ex. PW- 1/F2, is on record as Ex. PW-1/A. Again, the original
of Ex. PW-1/D2 has been proved on record as Ex. PW-1/F1, which had been seized by the CBI vide
recovery memo Ex. PW-1/F. The original of the letter Ex. PW-1/D is on record and has been proved
as Ex. PW-1/D1. The original letter of PW-19 is on record and proved as Ex. PW-1/F3. The original
fax message/receipt is Ex. PW-1/F/4. All the departmental inquiry proceedings are on record in
original and proved by relevant witnesses. Therefore, all the original documents required to
establish the chain of events, are on record, and duly proved by some or the other witness,
satisfactorily.
57. Moving ahead, the judgement of the Full Bench of the Hon'ble High Court of Delhi in Sapan
Haldar v. State [(2012) 191 DLT 225] would not come to the rescue of the accused. The observations
in the said judgement have already been questioned by the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India in the
recent judgement titled as Sonvir v. State of NCT of Delhi [Criminal Appeal No. 958/2017, Supreme
Court of India, dated 02.07.2018]. In any case, even if relying upon the judgement of the Delhi High
Court, the court ignores the specimen signatures/handwriting of the accused as obtained by the CBI,
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on the ground that it had no authority to do so or that it could not have been obtained the same
either in the absence of or even in the presence of a Magistrate, yet nothing had prevented the CBI
from obtaining the admitted signatures and handwriting of the accused from other sources and
getting the same compared with the questioned signatures or handwriting. In the present case,
various applications/letters written by the accused or bearing his signatures had been seized by the
CBI and those admitted signatures and handwritings had been sent for forensic examination.
58. In addition to this, there is evidence of various witnesses who have identified the handwriting of
the accused in the court being acquainted with the same. PW-10 categorically stated that the
endorsement on the bottom of letter Ex. PW-10/A (photocopy of the same letter as recovered from
his house, which the CFSL report confirms to have originated from the same source as the
questioned letter) were in the handwriting of the accused. This fact is confirmed by PW-23 and also
by PW-11 who went on to depose that this letter had been given by the accused to him to get it
xeroxed and faxed. This would make it clear that the accused was in possession of these letters, even
if photocopies, and being the direct and only beneficiary of the same, would be liable for the
consequences. No serious issue has been raised by the accused to the testimony of these witnesses.
It is nowhere his case that these signatures do not belong to the accused or that these witnesses had
not been working with him or that they had not seen the accused writing or signing, or that they
were not competent to identify his signature, or that they had any previous enmity/motive/reason to
falsely implicate him in a criminal case. No suggestion was given to these witnesses that the accused
never gave photocopy of the letter for getting the same xeroxed or faxed. Though the PW-16 and
PW-18 did not support the prosecution case, yet their hostility would not nullify or negate the
testimony of other witnesses who have corroborated each other and deposed in favour of the
prosecution. These witnesses might have their own reasons for not supporting the prosecution case
but that would not be a reason for the court to discard the testimony of other witnesses who have
withstood the test of cross-examination on oath in the court. The CFSL report has confirmed that
the photocopy of documents as recovered from the accused originated from the same source from
which the questioned letter had originated, being similar in substantial characteristics. There is no
reason for the court to disbelieve the said report and even on bare perusal of the said documents, it
can be ascertained that the same have been created through the same source.
59. Similarly, the court has no reason to disbelieve the investigative steps conducted by the
investigating officers PW-25, then PW-22 and finally by PW-26. These witnesses narrated the steps
of investigation in detail. There is nothing in their cross-examination which would make them false
witnesses or which would lead the court to doubt their testimony. The court cannot disbelieve them
only on the ground that they happened to be the CBI officials. There is no rule of law that requires
the evidence of the CBI officials to be viewed with any suspicion. They are as good as any other
witness and their credibility has to be ascertained on the same yardstick as in case of all other
witnesses. If there is a ring of truth and there is no reason for the court to disbelieve them, their
evidence has to be accepted. The stand of the accused that the dispatch and receipt register was not
seized, or that permission of the court was not taken before taking specimen of typewriter, or that
the typewriter was not seized, or that the facsimile signatures of the President was not seized, or that
the concerned envelopes had not been seized, that would hardly make any difference.
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60. It may also be understood that some minor variations, omissions, exaggerations and
contradictions are bound to creep in the testimony of the witnesses, particularly when they are
examined after the lapse of sufficient time, but unless such variations or omissions go to the root of
the matter, they have to be ignored. The court cannot expect the witnesses to remember all minute
details of all the investigative steps with mathematical accuracy and scientific precision, as human
memory is liable to fade with the passage of time. In the present case, the witnesses were examined
during a span of 20 long years and therefore, if certain witnesses were not able to depose about
some facts, which do not go to the root of the matter, that would not be fatal to the prosecution case.
Thus, if the witnesses were not able to depose about the exact dates of certain events or about exact
timings or about the minute details of the search or seizure proceedings or of recording of the
statements, that would not make any difference, till the time the witnesses have supported the
prosecution case on material particulars. There is nothing in their cross-examination which would
come to the rescue of the accused on any material count. There is nothing to show that any
documents seized by the CBI had been subsequently tampered with, as suggested to PW-22. No
evidence in defence has been led by the accused to substantiate any stand taken by him during the
course of trial and during the cross-examination of the prosecution witnesses.
61. The judgement in Mohd. Ibrahim v. State of Bihar [(2009) 8 SCC 751], would also not come to
the rescue of the accused, primarily because in the present case, the forgery of the document has
been satisfactorily established and it is not a case where a document is not a forged one.
62. The accused has not taken any specific defence during the entire trial or even in his statement
under section 313 CrPC. Except baldly denying the averments and the incriminating circumstances
appearing in evidence against him, the accused has not explained as to in what circumstances the
photocopied documents were recovered from his house or bearing his handwritings. He has not
explained for what purpose he had given the document to be photocopied or faxed to his colleague.
He has not explained who would take so much pains and create such a document in his favour and
file the same before his department to give undue benefit to him.
63. The stand of the accused, that he has been falsely implicated on the ground that he had made
certain complaints against his seniors, has not been proved by any evidence whatsoever. He has not
placed on record any such complaint against any official and in any forum to show any reason or
motive for any person to falsely implicate him in such a criminal case. No complaint ever made by
him against any specific person has been brought or proved on record. Though one mercy petition
as sent by the accused to the Hon'ble President of India is on record, yet that proves nothing in
favour of the accused. Even if it is assumed that the accused had sent one representation to the
Hon'ble President of India, there is nothing to show that some third person by taking benefit of the
same handed over such a letter to the accused, and the accused was so naive that he could not make
out that the said letter was a forged one. Rather the endorsement made by the accused in similar
photocopy in his possession, which was recovered from his house, also shows that the accused
intended to use even the same for some unknown purpose. The accused has never explained as to
from where he managed to get even the photocopy of this document. He has not named any person
or source through which he came into possession of the letter in question. Even if there is no direct
evidence to show as to who had sent the letter to the Department of Communication by ordinary
Indian Kanoon - http://indiankanoon.org/doc/130511549/
18
997 vs Gokak on 30 August, 2018
post, but the material on record would make it sufficiently clear that it could not have been any
person other than the accused, as he was the direct beneficiary of the same and similar letters had
been recovered from his house in his possession and there is no evidence to establish anything to the
contrary.
64. No other stand has been taken by the accused during the course of arguments.
65. In view of this discussion, the court is satisfied that the prosecution has been able to establish its
case against the accused beyond the shadow of reasonable doubt. It has been established that the
accused had used a forged and false letter as genuine, purportedly issued by and bearing the
signatures of the then President of India Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma, with intention to cheat and
with attempt to cheat the Department of Post/Communication. The offences of use of a forged
document and attempt to cheat are clearly made out.
66. Having said so, the accused is accordingly held guilty and is convicted for the offence punishable
under section 471 IPC and 420/511 IPC.
67. Let the matter be listed for arguments on sentence.
Announced in the open court
this 30th day of August 2018
Indian Kanoon - http://indiankanoon.org/doc/130511549/
ASHU
Digitally signed
by ASHU GARG
GARG
Date: 2018.08.30
17:21:56 +0530
ASHU GARG
CMM (Central), Delhi
19
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