Cybercrime and the shortcomings of cyber justice in Karnataka

Cybercrime and the shortcomings of cyber justice in Karnataka

Submitted by alvin on Mon, 2016-06-27 13:28 The hallmark of democracy is that every citizen has a right to quick and fair justice. To uphold this democratic responsibility, it is essential for the "system", which consists of the government, the judiciary and the administrators to ensure that the "rule of law" prevails in the country.The government is responsible to frame proper laws, judiciary is responsible to deliver the justice, and administrators, which includes the law enforcement machinery, is responsible to provide the support required by the judiciary.Karnataka has often been hailed as a technology savvy state and Bengaluru is recognised as the "Silicon Capital" of India in view of the presence of a large number of IT industries. The perception therefore is that Bengaluru in particular is endowed with rich IT talent and sets an example to the rest of the country in all matters related to IT.However, despite specific efforts, Bengaluru has failed to make progress when it comes to delivery of justice to cybercrime victims. I would like to highlight one of the major shortcomings in the administration of cyber justice in Karnataka and the specific role of the IT secretary of the state in this regard.The law relevant to delivery of justice with regard to cyberspace in India is the "Information Technology Act 2000 amended in 2008" (ITA 2000/8).Under this law, any person who has suffered financial loss up to Rs5 crore, arising out of any contravention of ITA 2000/8, should approach the IT secretary of the state for seeking damages. The IT secretary is called the "adjudicator" and has the sole jurisdiction in this regard.Though the law makers who wrote ITA 2000/8 provided for this special judicial process called the "adjudication", the IT secretaries of Karnataka have not been keen to accept this responsibility and do everything in their powers to discourage public from approaching them with a complaint under Section 46 of ITA 2000/8.ITA 2000/8 envisaged that while the police may pursue prosecution of a cybercrime perpetrator, the system of adjudication may be used by a cybercrime victim to claim financial damages not only from the perpetrator of the cybercrime but also from others who aided and abetted the crime.In most of the financial cybercrimes such as bank frauds or credit card frauds, the perpetrator may be hard to find but the intermediaries who aided and abetted the crime such as the banks or the mobile service providers or a merchant establishment can be identified and held liable under ITA 2000/8.In one of the cases brought before a Karnataka adjudicator, the cybercrime victim had lost money due to the negligence of Axis Bank and hence claimed the money from Axis Bank which was liable under ITA 2000/8.There was a conflict of interest for the IT secretary to take up the complaint against Axis Bank but the IT secretary not only went ahead with the proceedings without recusing himself but also passed an award which was bad in law and prevented any further complaints being filed on any banks under Section 46 of ITA 2000/8.The responsibility for correcting the situation lies primarily with the current IT secretary of the state but he remains aloof. At the same time, the silence of the IT minister, the chief minister, and the chief justice of Karnataka, who is responsible for maintaining the judicial system in Karnataka, is also unpardonable.As a concerned citizen of Karnataka, who is also a netizen, I ask: Are all of them ignorant? Or are all of them unconcerned? If so, they are trampling on our fundamental right to justice at least in the cyber space of Karnataka.Author:Na.Vijayashankar, popularly known as Naavi, is an expert and a pioneer in the field of cyber laws in India. He authored the first book and e-book on cyber laws in India, including a book in Kannada.