Flaws of Law: The Antedating Illusion – Tathagata Dutta

A date assigned to an event or document earlier than the actual date of the event or document is known as ante – dating [1]. Antedating is one of the ways which are used to attempt to make a false document and may be also used for forgery, if the document was antedated with the intention to fraud.

There are such cases which state about the practice of ante dating is a criminal offence. In the case of Mangal Sing vs The State [2] where it was observed that the act of antedating is an offence related to forgery which falls within the ambit of Section 464 of the I.P.C, i.e. making of a false document. There have been many more such cases which states that antedating is a criminal offence. But after the Information Act, 2000, Section 464 was amended and it seems that after this amendment antedating might not be a crime anymore.

Prior to the Information Act, 2000 section 464 contained a sentence which specifically talked about antedating being an act of making of a false document, “…or at a time at which he knows that it was not made, signed, sealed or executed…” But post the amendment this line was removed and there are no other provisions which talks about antedating. So, does that imply that antedating which was considered to be a wrongful act is no more a wrongful act?

What makes this situation messier and confusing is that after the 2000 amendment there has not been even a single case where the court has given conviction on antedating or has stated that act of antedating is to be considered to be making of a false document (under section 464) and to be considered as forgery. This leaves a question that whether or not the act
antedating with the intention to fraud is to be considered to be a crime or not. This also leaves a huge window of opportunity to people who want to antedate documents with the intention of committing fraud.

To add up to the confusion, the illustration (h) of the section 464 mentions a situation of antedating. The illustration states that, “A sells and conveys an estate to Z. A afterwards, in order to defraud Z of his estate, executes a conveyance of the same estate to B, dated six months earlier than the date of the conveyance to Z, intending it to be believed that he had conveyed the estate to B before he conveyed it to Z. A has committed forgery.”

Through this illustration it can be assumed that the intention of the parliament was not to amend the provision so as to remove the part of the provision of antedating. The exclusion of antedating can be considered as a mistake which might provide an opportunity for the wrongdoers to commit the wrong and still be free from punishment with the help of experts of law who know exactly where to use such gaps in the provisions for their clients benefit.

Such confusions and gap in the provisions really roll the ball into the wrongdoer’s court and gives him a free ticket to commit wrong. This becomes easier in antedating as are no specific case law which states the problem related to the amendment. This problem should be dealt at the earliest or else it defeats the attempt of the law to protect the interest of the people at large.

[1] Merriam – Webster
[2] AIR 1956 Pat 154

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