23 April 2023 11:00 AM GMT
The Bombay High Court upheld acquittal of five persons in a forgery case citing defective investigation as there was no handwriting expert report regarding the authors of the signature on the forged document.Justice GA Sanap observed that the possibility of the complainant himself having forged the signatures cannot be ruled out in the absence of a handwriting report.“There is no report of...
The Bombay High Court upheld acquittal of five persons in a forgery case citing defective investigation as there was no handwriting expert report regarding the authors of the signature on the forged document.
Justice GA Sanap observed that the possibility of the complainant himself having forged the signatures cannot be ruled out in the absence of a handwriting report.
“There is no report of the handwriting expert with regard to the author or the signatories of the documents. The investigation on that aspect is defective. In such circumstances, reasonable doubt has been created about the role of the informant. In the facts and circumstances, the possibility of the informant making the signature of Mr Bhalchandra Sarjoshi cannot be ruled out.”
The complaint Sharad Bonde, Assistant Registrar in the Amravati University, claimed that he purchased a plot belonging to a member of a co-operative society and the prime accused Ashish Sharma was a broker for the transaction.
Bonde alleged that Sharma introduced a person as the owner of the plot to him, confirmed by Shirish Mohod, President, and Ashok Deshmukh, Secretary of the society. This person signed that sale deed and other two accused Vikki Thete and Vilas Pethe were witnesses to the transaction.
However, when Bonde sought permission from the society to undertake construction on the plot, he was denied on the ground that the plot does not belong to him.
Bonde alleged that the accused forged the transfer deed and lodged complaint against Sharma, Thete, Pethe, Mohod, and Deshmukh for offences under sections 420 (cheating), 468 (forgery with intend to cheat), 471 (using forged document as genuine), and 109 (abetment) of the IPC.
The Judicial Magistrate First Class acquitted them holding that the prosecution failed to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubtful. Therefore, Bonde filed the present revision application and the state filed the connected appeal challenging the acquittal.
The High Court noted that the prime accused Sharma is dead and thus the prosecution against him stands abated. At the most, Sharma was the initiator of the transaction the HC said.
The HC added that the rest of the accused were not directly concerned with the transfer of the plot as they did not execute any document. The entire consideration was received by Sharma and the complainant did not allege that the rest of the accused received anything from the sale, the HC noted.
The complainant had also filed a civil suit against the accused persons for recovery of his money. The suit was abated against Sharma due to his death.
The Civil Court allowed the recovery of membership fees from the society but did not find any liability on the rest of the accused. The HC opined that this is a strong circumstance in their favour.
The original owner of the plot, Bhalchandra Sarjoshi, testified that the signatures on the transfer deed do not belong to him. Bonde claimed that the person introduced to him as the original owner was not a was not Sarjoshi but a fake person.
However, he did not provide the description of the said fake person so that he could be traced by the police, the court noted. The HC opined that this creates a doubt about Bonde’s conduct
The transfer of immovable property could not have been made without registration of the sale deed. However, Bonde claimed that he acted on the say of the accused. The HC noted that Bonde, despite being a well-educated person, agreed to purchase the plot without making an inquiry.
The HC further noted that they was no handwriting expert on the point of the author of the signatures on the documents. The HC held that signatures on the documents not being proved and the fake person not being traced is a vital lacuna in the prosecution’s case.
Since Bonde knew that the plot belonged to the society, he was supposed to approach the society to purchase it and not Sharma, the HC said. Further, Bonde lodged the complaint two months after he came to know that he was deceived, the HC said.
Therefore, the HC concluded that a reasonable doubt exists against the guilt of the accused.
Case no. – Criminal Revision Application (Revn) No. 215 of 2004
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Bom) 211
Case Title – Sharad S/o. Shankarrao Bonde v. State of Maharashtra and Ors.
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