According to Section 471 of the Indian Penal Code, “Whoever fraudulently or dishonesty uses as genuine any document 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”. The ingredients of Section 471 are: (i) there must be fraudulent or dishonest use of a document as genuine and (ii) the person using it must have knowledge or reason to believe that the document is a forged are.
Preparations of forged documents, which constitute the commission of the offence of forgery, are quite different from the act of making use of a forged document. Making use of a forged document is not the same thing as forging document. The act of using such a forged document is by itself an offence. Hence, if a forger uses such a forged document, it will constitute an offence under Section 471, IPC.
Section 471 thus covers not only some person other than a forger but also a forger who forges the documents and then makes use of it. So if a person, who is found guilty of the offence of forgery under Section 467, makes use of such forged document, then he can equally be punished under Section 471 also. For the offence under Section 471, one of the necessary ingredients is fraudulent and dishonest use of the document as genuine. The act need not be both dishonest and fraudulent.
The use of document as contemplated by Section 471 must be voluntary one. For sustaining conviction under Section 471 it is necessary for the prosecution to prove that accused knew or had reason to believe that the document to be a forged one. Whether the accused knew or had reason to believe the document in question to be a forged one has to be adjudicated on the basis of materials and the finding recorded in that regard is essentially factual. The offence under Section 471 is cognizable and warrant should issue. It is bailable, not compoundable and triable for Magistrate of first class.