Civil Procedure Code (CPC)

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Key Takeaways

  • The Information Technology Act of 2000 is part of India's legal framework for cyber law. It is the primary legislation that intends to provide penalties for a variety of cybercrimes.
  • As India moves toward digitalization and artificial intelligence, there has been a huge increase in cybercrime.
  • Some historic judgments have helped to shape India's Cyber Law system, and some of the most important ones are discussed in this article.

Introduction

The term "Cyber Law" refers to the legal framework that governs cyberspace. With India's move toward digitalization and artificial intelligence, there has been a considerable increase in Cyber Crime. In Cyber Crimes, a 63.5 percent increase was noted.

The Information Technology Act of 2000 is part of India's legal framework for Cyber Law. It is the parent legislation that intends to provide penalties for a variety of Cyber Crimes. Some historic judgements have helped to shape India's Cyber Law regime, and a few significant decisions are highlighted here.

Landmark Judgments

1. Shreya Singhal Vs UOI AIR 2015 SC 1523

Background Facts

The two women were arrested under Section 66A of the IT Act, alleged to have posted objectionable comments on Facebook regarding the complete shutdown of Mumbai after the demise of a political leader.

Section 66Aof IT Act states that whoever by using a computer resource or communication provides information that is offensive, false, or causes inconvenience, danger, annoyance, insult, hatred, injury, or ill will, be punished with imprisonment.

The women filed a petition challenging the constitutionality of Section 66A of the IT Act on the grounds that it is violative of the freedom of speech and expression.

Issue

The validity of Section 66A of the IT Act was challenged before the Supreme Court.

Decision

While pronouncing the decision court discussed three concepts and they were discussion, advocacy, and incitement. The court was of the view that mere discussion or even advocacy of a cause, irrespective of how unpopular the same is at the heart of the freedom of speech and expression.

The court held that section 66A is ambiguous, and is violative of the right to freedom of speech and it takes within its range the speech that is innocent as well. It removed an arbitrary provision from IT Act, 2000 and upheld citizens’ fundamental right to free speech in India. It was of the view that even though section 66A is struck down, provisions in the Indian Penal Code, 1860 will continue to be applicable prohibiting racist speech, any speech that outrages the modesty of a woman or speech aimed at promoting enmity, abusive language, criminal intimidation, racism, etc.

2. M/s Gujarat Petrosynthese Ltd and Mr Rajendra Prasad Yadav Vs Union of India 2014 (1) Kar L J 121

Background Facts

Petitioners had asked Respondent to designate a Chairperson to the Cyber Appellate Tribunal (CAT) in order to ensure that the tribunal's proceedings were convened on a regular basis. It was submitted beforecourt that the agency would take all necessary measures to fill the vacancy.

Within six months, a chairperson will be appointed, and every effort will be made to do so.

It was further submitted that for the public interest, the chairperson should be appointed even before the end of the time.

Issue

The petitioners have asked this Court to issue a writ of mandamus ordering the respondent to appoint a Chairperson to the Cyber Appellate Tribunal (CAT), in order to ensure that the CAT's proceedings are held on a regular basis.

Decision

There is no need to offer any directions. However, it is expected that, after a period of more than two years, the respondent will take up the question of appointing a Chairperson to the CAT with urgency and do so as quickly as possible, taking into account Section 53 of the Information Technology Act, 2000.

The petition is dismissed with these observations and no cost order.

3. Shamsher Singh Verma Vs State of Haryana 2015 SCC OnLine SC 1242

Background Facts

The accused filed an appeal before SC after his application was rejected by the HC to exhibit the Compact Disc filed before the court for defence and to get the same proved from the Forensic Science Laboratory.

Issue

Whether Compact Disc requires a personal admission or denial from the complainant or witness regarding a document under Section 294 (1) of the CrPC?

Decision

The Supreme Court concluded that a Compact Disc is likewise a document and is admissible, and that the accused, complainant, or witness does not need to personally admit or deny a document under Section 294 (1) of the CrPC.

4. CBI Vs Arif Azim (Sony Sambandh case)

Background Facts

The website www.sony-sambandh.com allowed NRIs to send Sony products to their Indian friends and relatives after paying online for the same. Someone logged in May 2002 into the website under the name of Barbara Campa and a Sony Colour TV set along with a cordless telephone was ordered for Arif Azim in Noida. The payment was made by her through a credit card and the said order was delivered to Arif Azim. Though the credit card agency informed the company that it was an unauthorized payment, the purchase was denied by the actual owner.

The complaint was lodged with CBI and a case under Section 419, 418, and 420 of IPC,1860 was registered. An investigation was held, and it was concluded that Arif Azim while working at the Noida Call Centre, got access to the credit card details of Barbara Campa which he misappropriated.

Issue

Whether IPC, 1860 can be reliable and effective legislation to rely on when the IT Act is not exhaustive?

Court Decision

The court found Arif Azim guilty, but because he was a young boy and a first-time offender, the court was lenient. The convicted person was given a one-year probationary period.

The Indian Penal Code, 1860, was cited by the court as an effective piece of legislation to depend on when the IT Act was not sufficient.

5. State of Tamil Nadu Vs SuhasKatti CC No. 4680 of 2004

Background Facts

The accused was the victim’s family friend and wanted to marry her but she married another man which resulted in a divorce. After her divorce, the accused influenced her again and, on her unwillingness to marry him, he took the course of harassment through the Internet. He opened a false e-mail account in the victim's name and posted obscene, defamatory, and annoying information about the victim.

Chargesheet was filed under Section 67 of the IT Act and Section 469 and 509 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 against the accused.

Decision

The accused was convicted under Section 469 and 509 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and Section 67 of the IT Act by Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate. He was punished with a Rigorous Imprisonment of 2 years along with a fine of Rs. 500 under Section 469 of the IPC, Simple Imprisonment of 1 year along with a fine of Rs. 500 under Section 509 of the IPC, and Rigorous Imprisonment of 2 years along with a fine of Rs. 4,000 under Section 67 of the IT Act.

The present case is a landmark case in Cyber Law as it ensured efficient handling of the case by making conviction possible within 7 months from filing the FIR.

6. SMC Pneumatics (India) Pvt Ltd Vs Jogesh Kwatra CM APPL No. 33474 of 2016

Background Facts

The defendant, Jogesh Kwatra, was an employee in the plaintiff’s company. He started sending vulgar, abusive, derogatory, and filthy emails to his employers and to subsidiaries of the company all over the world to defame the company and its Managing Director. The investigation took place, and it was found that the email originated from a Cyber Cafe in New Delhi. The defendant was identified by the Cyber Cafe attendant during the inquiry. The defendant was terminated from service on May 11, 2011.Following that, he became vindictive and attempted to settle scores by sending emails attempting to ruin the reputation of plaintiffs 1 and 2 and to libel them, among other things. As a result, a lawsuit has been filed against the defendant, seeking a perpetual injunction.

Issue

Whether the plaintiffs are entitled to the relief of perpetual injunctions sought in the plaint's prayer clause?

Is it true that the plaintiffs did not come to court with clean hands?

Decision

Because the court did not qualify as certified evidence under section 65B of the Indian Evidence Act, the plaintiffs are not entitled to a perpetual injunction. There was no concrete evidence as to who was sending these emails. The defendant, on the other hand, was barred from posting or transmitting any information in Cyberspace that was insulting to the plaintiffs by the court.

7. Avnish Bajaj Vs State (NCT) of Delhi (2008) 150 DLT 769

Background Facts

In this case, Avnish Bajaj, the CEO of Bazee.com, was arrested for screening cyber pornography under Section 67 of the IT Act. Someone else, however, was using the Bazee.com website to sell copies of a CD containing pornographic material.

Decision

Mr. Bajaj was not involved in the airing of pornographic content, according to the court. Such material could not be read on the Bazee.com website, which receives a commission and makes money from sales and adverts made on its pages.

The court points out that the evidence gathered demonstrates that the cyber pornographic offence was committed by someone other than Bazee.com.

The CEO has granted bail on the condition that two sureties of Rs1 lakh each be provided.

However, the onus is on the accused to show that he was only a service provider and not a content creator.

8. Pune Citibank Mphasis Call Center Fraud

Background Facts

In 2005, $ 3,50,000 was fraudulently moved from four Citibank accounts in the United States to a few fictitious accounts via the internet. The staff acquired the customers' trust and collected their PINs under the belief that they would be able to assist them in dealing with challenging situations. Instead of decoding encrypted software or breaching firewalls, they were looking for flaws in the MphasiS system.

Decision

The defendants in this case are MphasiS call centre ex-employees, according to the court. Every time an employee enters or exits, they are examined. As a result, it's apparent that the employees had the numbers memorised. SWIFT, or the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, was utilised to transfer the cash. Unauthorized access to the consumers' electronic accounts was used to commit the crime. As a result, this case is classified as a "Cyber Crime."

The IT Act is wide enough to cover these types of crimes, and any offence under the IPC involving the use of electronic documents can be prosecuted in the same way as crimes involving traditional documents.

Because of the nature of illegal access that is involved in committing transactions, the court ruled that section 43(a) of the IT Act, 2000 is applicable. The defendants were additionally charged under sections 66 and 420 of the Information Technology Act, 2000, as well as sections 465,467, and 471 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

9. Christian Louboutin SAS Vs Nakul Bajaj &Ors (2018) 253 DLT 728

Background Facts

A luxury shoe company filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction against an e-commerce portal for facilitating trademark infringement with a seller of counterfeit goods.

Issue

Whether the defendant is permitted to utilise the plaintiff's logos, marks, and images, which are protected under Section 79 of the Information Technology Act?

Decision

The defendant is more than an intermediary, according to the Court, because the website has complete control over the products supplied through its platform. It recognises and promotes third-party vendors to market their wares. The Court also stated that an e-commerce platform's active participation would insulate it from the rights granted to intermediaries under Section 79 of the IT Act.

10. Devidas Ramachandra Tuljapurkar Vs the State of Maharashtra (2015) 6 SCC 1

Background Facts

The Supreme Court evaluated whether the charges could be brought under Section 292 of the Indian Penal Code for the publication of a poem including historically significant figures.

Issues

Whether the poem "Gandhi Mala Bhetala" published among members of the All-India Bank Association Union could lead to the author being charged with a crime punishable under section 292 IPC?

Decision

The court quashed the accusations since the poem was already performed and published by others, and after hearing the comments of specific employees, he tendered an unqualified apology before initiation of the proceedings, and for these reasons, the court quashed the charges.

The community standard test is used to identify obscenity, according to the court.

Once the matter has been determined to be obscene, the question of whether the contested issue comes within any of the section's exceptions may arise.

Conclusion

The Cyber Law system is governed by the IT Act and the rules that have been established. When the IT Act cannot offer a specific offence or does not contain exhaustive provisions relating the offence, resort might be given to the IPC provisions.

Even still, it is clear that Cyber Law is insufficient to cope with the current offence.As India moves closer to being a digital nation, crime is on the rise, and new forms of Cyber Crime are emerging every day. As a result, the need to improve and advance legislation to deal with Cyber Crime is growing, as India's Cyber Law has been found to be inadequate in comparison to other states.


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