This article analyzes the disturbing trend in India of launching prosecution against cyber crimes on the basis of laws that do not exist. A clarification from the Department of Information Technology (DIT) of the Government of India was sought in this regard but there was no reply. The net result is that we are witnessing prosecutions that are not justified by any law in India. This situation shows that there is a dire need of training of police personnel that is presently missing all over India. Cyber crimes require good techno-legal knowledge that is presently missing. We have to do much more than mere “declarations of sufficiency” and claim of opening of cyber crimes police stations and cells.
Cyber law awareness in India is missing not only among the general public but also among the police force and media personnel. The biggest challenge before the police is to get itself acquainted with the basic cyber law of India (Information Technology Act, 2000). It is senseless to claim themselves trained in cyber law when they are not even aware what the India cyber law is all about.
However, the real culprits are the Department of Information Technology (DIT) and Government of India (GOI) who are “responsible” for “deliberately misleading” the people, media and police force. The indifference of DIT and GOI in this regard is really frustrating. The matter was well within their knowledge, still they deemed it fit not to clarify the situation. Had they clarified that the proposed Information Technology Amendment Act, 2008 (Act 2008) has not been passed, no accused could have been prosecuted under its provisions.
The Mumbai police registered a case of “cyber terrorism” when a threat email was sent to the BSE and NSE. It can proudly claim to be the first in the State since an amendment to the Information Technology Act has been proposed. The bigger question is how can police consider, much less utlilze, the provisions of a law that has “not come into force yet”? Till the Information Technology Amendment Act, 2008 is “notified” by the Central Government under section 1(2) of the proposed amendments, the amendments cannot come into force. And till the amendments cannot come into force, we cannot apply the provisions contained in it. Then how come the Mumbai police is booking the accused under the amended law?
Perhaps they are too trained for cyber law and cyber crimes, and hence are applying their own laws and notions to cases that does not attract these stringent provisions at all. It seems the Mumbai police and its partner NASSCOM needs at least 5 more years to acquaint themselves with the basics of cyber law of India. As far as techno-legal expertise is concerned, that may remain a dream forever.
It is time to swiftly act for the GOI before further prosecutions surface in India. The DIT in general and GOI in particular are responsible for the wrong prosecutions happening in India through their instrumentalities. If still the DIT/GOI does not act, we can safely conclude that the rights of Indian citizens no more exist in India.