Sunday, November 4, 2012

President Pranab Mukherjee and the case of signature forgery- What's the potential truth ?

What had happened ?
Pranab Mukherjee became India's 13th President in July 2012. He was the nominee from the ruling party of India (UPA) and he contested the Presidential elections againstthe opposition party's (NDA) candidate- P.A. Sangma. This election procedure became quite high profile and was in news for couple of months before Pranab finally winning the battle. But the whole episode didn't end there with P.A. Sangma questioning the fairness of the way whole elections were conducted and even moved Supreme court contesting the same.
Sangma had on August 21 moved the Supreme Court challenging Pranab Mukherjee's election as the President, contending he was holding offices of profit and hence not eligible to contest for the post. Apparently, Pranab was the Chairman of Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) "prior" (matter sub judice) to filing his nomination as an presidential candidate. According to him he had submitted his resignation to concerned ISI authorities prior to filing his nomination and this was not holding any office of profit. Opposition claimed that Pranab's signature in his ISI resignation were forged and that implies that he didnt himself resign and could be that some one else filed the resignation and that too beyond the nomination date. Thats what the core of matter is.

Pranab Mukherjee's signature on ISI resignation letter:

Pranab Mukherjee's usual signatures:

Some characteristics of Pranab Mukherjee's signature on ISI resignation letter:
If we have a closer look at the signature sample, some things to notice there-
1. The signature does not have a second name written. It just has a first name.
2. The signature for the most part seems illegible i.e. hardly readable. Except for the starting letter "P" and the presence of a letter having lower loop, there is hardly anything else thats really readable. 
3. The signature is written in almost straight baseline.

In the search of truth...
In one of my previous write-ups, i had written- "a handwriting sample of an individual reveals his core personality traits and the signature reveals the projected public personality traits." So a signature of a person at its core represents how a person wishes to be seen in public. With this background in mind, lets further delve in.
In his defense to the charges raised by Sangma in court, Pranab had resorted back as-
"The petitioner, as many people do, on some occasions signs his letters as PK Mukherjee and on formal documents, appends his signature as his full name- Pranab Mukherjee. The signature on the resignation letter is his short signature,"

This response clarifies above listed  characteristic# 1 i.e. the Signature sample in ISI resignation letter actually represents the name "PK Mukherjee" and not just the first name. That explains the presence of letter with lower loop i.e. the first name "Pranab" does not have any lower loop letter but the second name "Mukherjee" does have one ("j").

I did note that most part of this signature is not legible i.e. not readable and that denotes in absolute terms that a person does not want to show to the outer world, what traits or personality is he actually made up of. After seeing much of Pranab Mukherjee in public life and he being literally the face of UPA, refuting all the charges and allegations, its quite hard to fathom that someone in that position and role would deliberately not let the world know what stuff he is made up of from within. That too knowing that he was in the public life for more than 60 years. He is quite an imposing personality and is known in the political circles for his straight-forwardness. It may seem that i am tending to be skewed towards this being a forged signature as is alleged but there is a lot more that needs to be looked into before concluding the same.

Having more than one signature is probably legally allowed  but it does lead to all sorts of confusion as can be seen in this case being discussed. Its quite hard to believe why a person of Pranab's authority and position would want to have more than 1 signature. Remember he was India's finance minister before becoming the President and that position also would have required Pranab to sign large number of documents. This statement probably have an answer to the question i.e. some people would probably want to have short signature because being a signing authority with a job of approving and signing large number of documents, they would tend to use short signatures to lessen the stress that comes with repetition. And this sounds absolutely reasonable.
This source talks about another reason for people opting for more than one signature and it says-
More than one signature : If possible try to have more than one signature, one is for legal purpose and rest is for other purposes. Because if we use only one signature at everywhere, there will be more chances available to cheaters or fraudsters to get you signature easily.

Another aspect that needs to be taken into consideration in this case is hurriedness while writing the Signature. When a person is signing frequently or is in some sort of a hurried state of mind, it is quite likely that he/she may not be able to reproduce all the parts of signature as is usually done. Consider the case of any famous personality giving autographs to hundreds of fans gathered. Will all the signatures be exactly the same in this situation ? Most likely not. I know this situation is not same as the case of Pranab but what warrants more thinking is the state in which he wrote the ISI resignation signature. Had he already signed 100's of papers before signing this one ?  If he had (probably only he or someone close to him can tell), then we have an answer why the signature is illegible in parts.

I am no court or judge to pass a judgement here. But one thing is quite clear that the cases of forgery tend to get quite complex in itself. Just a plain comparison of 2 signatures as most of the people including News channels seem to be doing, isn't the right way to go about it.  If at all we were to do in that way, i can tell one thing for sure that no two signatures are alike. An observant eye can find faults in any 2 signature sample of the same person taken almost at the same time. Will this mean they are forged ? This is probably something for you to ponder.

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