rt pcr report: Some Indians, including well-off ones, forging negative RT-PCR reports – The Economic Times

Clipped from: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/india/some-indians-including-well-off-ones-forging-negative-rt-pcr-reports/articleshow/82490609.cmsSynopsis

Forgery of an RT-PCR test is punishable under IPC and under disaster management acts. Lawyers say IPC sections can include 419 (punishment for cheating by impersonation), 420 (cheating and dishonesty), 467 (forgery of valuable security), 468 (forgery for cheating) and 471 (using a fake document as genuine). Section 120 (b) can also apply if the use of a forged report has an accomplice.

Numbers are hard to estimate but there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence for this crime – a dangerous new one in the middle of India’s second Covid wave. Some Indians, including well-off ones, are forging Covid negative RT-PCR reports, and getting away with it.

William Martin (name changed), 42, was moving from Goa to Jaipur, driving down. He packed everything. But he hadn’t taken a covid test, which he needed for inter-state travel. So, he borrowed the negative covid test report of a friend and Photoshopped his name on to it.

Many like Martin have been able to successfully fake their Covid negative reports, dodging authorities by using a few handy tricks from photo editing softwares. Many say it’s easy since test report PDFs are unlocked and can easily be forged.

Forgery of an RT-PCR test is punishable under IPC and under disaster management acts. Lawyers say IPC sections can include 419 (punishment for cheating by impersonation), 420 (cheating and dishonesty), 467 (forgery of valuable security), 468 (forgery for cheating) and 471 (using a fake document as genuine). Section 120 (b) can also apply if the use of a forged report has an accomplice.

A 34-year-old Noida resident reworked a copy of his earlier RT-PCR tests done in late 2020, and changed the dates. This, for a holiday in March 2021.

Lax Checks
“I had to take a trip to Bharatpur in Rajasthan around the end of March and the state demanded a negative RT-PCR certificate to enter their borders,” said the 34-year-old who went on a trip with his family of three. “Frankly, I had no interest in getting a swab stick up my nose again, it’s uncomfortable and I didn’t want to waste money on three tests,” he said. The added twist: “Nobody checked our results, not even the resort.”

Last month, when infections began rising exponentially, a general manager’s team at a premier luxury hotel in Rajasthan was doing routine phone calls to all its guests informing them about how an RT-PCR negative test result was mandatory to stay at the hotel. When they called a Mumbai resident to tell her that she and her co-travellers needed to carry the certificate, she told them she would like to get hold of a copy of one of their previous guest’s tests and that she would just simply edit it.

The hotel staff say they were shocked. Incidents of forged RT-PCR tests are cropping up across the country.

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