In India, some years ago my brother wrote an application letter regarding release of a certain fund which was important to both him and his boss. He got the signature of his boss (for forwarding the letter to the manager) in the letter and carried it to the office, but the office clerks advised for some more corrections. The next day he wrote the revised letter and signed his own part. The boss was not available, so my brother submitted the application letter and his personal register book to the office- hoping that the office staffs will get the necessary signatures. The fund was eventually released and the money was paid to the appropriate parties. The same was also informed to the boss

However, after some years my brother found out that the boss was not present in the city at that time when the signature was taken. Therefore the signature of his boss in the application letter and register book might be forged by someone with or without permission of the boss (It also needs to be mentioned that one of the older office staffs have been convicted of criminal activities and is probably serving his sentences).

Now, my brother didn't witness the signature of the boss himself and certainly didn't commit forgery. The question is, can my brother still be accused or convicted for forgery as it was his application letter? Is he liable to witness the signature of the boss or it is liability of the office staff to get the proper signature?

In his defense, my brother can certainly show that

  1. He didn't imitate anyone's signature in his application letter and register book
  2. He still has the previous unrevised application letter with the signature of his boss, which the office staff asked to revise (which he can confirm with some amount of certainty)
  3. He informed the boss that the money was paid to the appropriate parties and have the signature of the parties (which was conducted in his presence)
  • I have no idea of the laws in India for this situation which you indicated in the comments for my now deleted answer is the Jurisdiction which applies. Oct 21, 2022 at 15:52

2 Answers 2


can my brother still be accused or convicted for forgery as it was his application letter?

Your brother can be accused of forgery no matter what. Anyone can do that, although the charges won't necessarily hold up and there may be consequences for intentionally making a false accusation.

He can be convicted, even if he has witnesses, if the judge doesn't believe him or the witnesses, and if there is sufficient evidence presented to the judge to give the judge a good reason to doubt their testimony.

Is he liable to witness the signature of the boss or it is liability of the office staff to get the proper signature?

For criminal conviction, the issue is whether he believed that the boss signed it or not, even unreasonably.

If a judge finds in a civil lawsuit that his careless actions made it possible to forge the signature, that could be a basis of civil liability in a lawsuit, but only to someone who was harmed economically by the document being signed when it shouldn't have been signed.

If it is true that:

The fund was eventually released and the money was paid to the appropriate parties.

Then there is no one who has suffered any damage that can be recovered in a lawsuit, and so there is no one with a legal basis to bring a lawsuit.

Also, if "the same was also informed to the boss" then even if the boss didn't actually sign it, he ratified the actions of whoever did sign it by failing to object to the fact that he knew he didn't sign it.

  • Thanks. I think the parties who received the payment wouldn't bring a lawsuit. But what if a new office staff finds a spooky signature in the records (like my brother himself did) and informs the authorities? Then the organization itself can accuse my brother of forgery right? In that case can my brother say that he only signed his part and ensuring the rest of the signatures were not his part of the job so it was the liability of the office? Can this point cast a reasonable doubt to the accusation? Oct 22, 2022 at 1:38
  • 1
    The statue and comments to it are here: indiankanoon.org/doc/1745798 I don't understand the anxiety over a case where any false signature, if indeed it was unknowingly false, did no harm. Why would anyone contact the authorities in that case and why would the authorities bother to do anything about it?
    – ohwilleke
    Oct 22, 2022 at 3:37
  • I don't know- may be we are getting panicked unnecessarily, as this was a unique experience to me and my brother. We just want to be sure that even if such accusation arises, my brother can prove that he didn't commit forgery, neither did commit collusion. Oct 22, 2022 at 4:02

The Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) is an act that has been put into law which governs commercial transactions and the sale of goods. It states that an individual is only bound on an instrument if they have personally signed it or had a representative sign it upon their request.

Legal signatures are completed through the means of writing or the use of a machine or device. It may consist of any mark, word, or symbol that has been adopted by a person who has the intention to authenticate a document of writing. If a person signs a contract without the other party's consent, the signature does not bind the document or contract. This is because the intent of both parties has not been established.

There are certain elements required in a contract in order for it to be valid. These include:

An offer: A manifestation of intent to enter into and establish a contract is called an offer. Acceptance: Consent to the terms of a contract is referred to as acceptance. Material items: Specifications should be clarified such as the price, nature, and identification of the contract. These are referred to as material items. Consideration: This is typically defined as offering something of value from one party to the other, normally by committing one promise for another.

It is important that a contract must be detailed enough that a court can legally enforce it if necessary.

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