Examination of Questioned Document (Chapter 2)

Questioned document examination (QDE) is the examination of documents Which are potentially disputed in a court or according to the law. This branch or division is come under Forensic Science.

Purpose of Questioned Document Examination

A document may be examined for a different reasons which serve the purpose to differentiate between authenticated and forged documents using scientific processes and methods. including:

  • Identity of the author.
  • To compare typewritten or computer printer-generated documents.
  • True contents of the document.
  • Analyze inks and papers.
  • Origin of the instrument of paper used in making the document.
  • Determine the age of a document.
  • Uncover credit card forgeries and currency fraud,
  • Alterations or erasures which have been made.
  • Authenticity of the document.
  • Reconstruct charred or obliterated writing.
  • Seals and Stamps
  • Indented Writing, etc.

Section related to Questioned Documents under Indian Penal Code,1860

Our Law gives us several provision related to documents in question.

Several sections of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 deals with a forged or questioned document. Following are the relevant sections:

  • Section 465 : Punishment for forgery—Whoever commits forgery shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.
  • Section 466 : Imitation of a record of a Court of Justice or of a Registrar of Births, etc., held by a public servant.
  • Section 471 : Using a forged document as genuine.
  • Section 472 : Developing or counterfeiting a seal, plate, etc., with the intent of committing a forgery punishable under section 467 of the IPC, or possessing with like intent any such seal, plate, etc., knowing the same to be forged.
  • Section 489 A : Counterfeiting bank or currency notes.
  • Section 417 : Punishment for cheating—Whoever cheats shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.

Several sections of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 deals with a forged or questioned document. Following are the relevant sections:

Section 3: “Document.”— “Document” means any matter expressed or described upon any substance by means of letters, figures or marks, or by more than one of those means, intended to be used, or which may be used, for the purpose of recording that matter.

  • Section 61: Proof of contents of documents
  • Section 64: Proof of documents by primary evidence
  • Section 65: Cases in which secondary evidence relating to documents may be given
  • Section 65A: Special provisions as to evidence relating to electronic record
  • Section 65B: Admissibility of electronic records
  • Section 67: Proof of signature and handwriting of person alleged to have signed or written document produced
  • Section 67A: Proof as to digital signature
  • Section 73A: Proof as to verification of digital signature.

Tools and Techniques used in Examination

The most important tool which document examiner has is his/her own vision, that is the first instrument which examiner use to examine the sample at first. Then according to the need examiner decide to use the external tools which enable the examiner to see, evaluate and record more than is visible to the normal eye. These tools can be divided into 6 class:

1. basic measuring tools

2. magnification (magnifiers/microscopes)

3. light sources

4. special instruments

5. photography equipment

6. computer equipment

Here, Some Equipments or special instruments name are mentioned which are used to examine questioned documents are following:

  • Stereo Microscope

  • Microspectrophotometers

  • Uv-Vis-Nir, Ftir And X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometry

  • Video Spectral Comparator

  • Electrostatic Detection Apparatus

  • Thin Layer Chromatography:

  • High Performance Thin Layer Chromatography

  • High Performance Liquid Chromatatography

  • Fourier Transform Infrared Microscopy

  • Raman Spectroscopy

  • Digital Hyperspectrum Equipment And Software For Forensic Documentexaminers

  • Docubox Dragon Projectina 1

  • Pyrolysis Gas Chromatography- Mass Spectrometry

  • Inductive Couple Plasm- Mass Spectrometry

  • Neutron Activation Analysis

Process for examination of document:

A Questioned document examiner makes scientific analysis, comparison and examinations of documents in question in order to:

Establish genuineness or non-genuineness, or to expose forgery, or to reveal alterations, additions or deletions,

1. Questioned document examiner Identify or remove a persons as the source of handwriting,

2. Questioned document examiner identify the source of typewriting or other impression, marks, or relative evidence, and,

3. Questioned document examiner also write reports and give testimony, when needed in court.

A scientific method of Questioned Document Examination consist of the followings steps to examine:

Analysis – First of all examiner observe every detail of sample from his eyes with the help of magnifier.

Comparison – After Analysis Examiner determine the Properties and characteristics of the questioned sample and compare it with known sample.

Evaluation – After analysis and comparison Document examiner need to evaluate the characteristics and properties of questioned sample and standard sample so that each details of samples can be determined.

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