The explanation attached to the section states that the offence of cheating by personation is committed whether the individual personated is a real person or an imaginary person. The first illustration clarifies that it is not necessary to change one’s name to commit this offence, and that if there is any other person who also has the same name as that of the accused and the accused cheats by pretending to be that other person, he commits this offence. The second illustration shows that this offence can be committed even by pretending to be some other such person who is dead.
The section requires that the offender must cheat. He must cheat by pretending to be some other person, or by knowingly substituting one person for another, or representing that he is some other person than he really is, or representing that any other person is some other person than he really is. The explanation says that this offence is committed both when the individual personated is a real person and when the individual personated is an imaginary person. The law does not punish mere personation because it is of no consequence to the society at all. For instance, where A buys a kilogram of potato at a vegetable market and on being asked about his name gives his name as B. It is personation but not a punishable one.
A personation is punishable only when one cheats by it, and so this definition under section 416. The Madhya Pradesh High Court has held that a person cannot be convicted merely because he secured an employment by giving out a fictitious name for himself but it must also be proved that he would not have got that job had he disclosed his true identity. Enjoying another’s benefit Where the accused was found using a railway season ticket issued in the name of another person by pretending to be that other person, he was held guilty of committing cheating by personation. Personation by a witness The Bombay High Court was of the view that a witness who gave false evidence in the name of another person should be charged with giving false evidence under section 193 of the Code, and not with cheating by personation. Personation before Public Service Commission Where the accused, who did not belong to the scheduled caste category, took the Indian Administrative Service examination as a scheduled caste candidate and succeeded in it and in the interview and got an appointment on the basis of that false representation, he was held guilty of committing cheating by personation.
Similarly, where the accused, one Mr. K.V. Rama Rao who was an overseer not possessing an engineering degree, falsely represented that he was Mr. K.
Rama Rao, an engineering graduate of Mysore University, and induced the Public Service Commission to select him for a government job in the appropriate cadre, it was held that he had committed cheating by personation. The same principles apply in University examinations. Personation before a public servant Where the accused was not the payee mentioned in some money orders but falsely represented before the postman that he was the payee and produced false identity card also for identification and thus induced the postman to pay him the amounts, and he also signed in the money orders as the payee, it was held that he was guilty of cheating by personation. But where the accused under authorisation from his brother who was the payee of a money order, went to the post office, signed in the name of his brother and received the money, he could not be held guilty of cheating by personation as there was no dishonest intention on his part. An accused, by merely inducing an Oath Commissioner, by wrongful identification, to attest an affidavit does not commit cheating by personation as the act done by the Oath Commissioner of attesting the affidavit does not cause or is not likely to cause any damage or harm to him in body, mind, reputation or property. False representation as to caste Where the accused, a Barna Brahmin, falsely represented to the mother of a girl that he was a Barendra Brahmin and thus induced the mother of the girl to get her married to him which she would not have agreed to had he disclosed his true caste, and as a result of this marriage the mother of the girl was excommunicated from her caste, it was held that the accused was guilty of cheating by personation. Similarly, where the accused falsely represented to a man that a girl of low caste was a Brahmin and thus induced him to pay to the accused some money as a consideration for marriage of the man’s brother with the girl, he was held guilty of committing cheating by personation.
Accused professing to be a bachelor Where the accused dishonestly induced the complainant as well as his daughter to agree to her marriage with him by professing to be a bachelor which he was not is cheating by personation. It is not correct to say that simply because the accused did not change his name on any occasion or remained the very same person, although assumed a different status or character according to his representation, this offence could not be committed.