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Investigation And Nabbing Of Accused In Cyber Crime And Cyber Offences

Introduction

The internet has become a source of everything that can be imagined, from educational system to online banking, e-commerce and governance. Life has become much easier and all can be done by a simple click. However, new challenges in securing the identity, data and privacy of an individual have arose from technological developments and internet dependency.

Cyber-crime has been on the rise in recent years[1], prompting the enactment of cyber laws in India. The most prevalent cyber-crimes in the country include credit card fraud, hacking, phishing, online transaction fraud, spoofing, denial of service attacks, child pornography, cyber stalking, and cyber defamation.[2]   Nowadays, the internet is also used for acts of terrorism. These crimes endanger the country’s stability and health. As a result, India has well-designed legal authority to deal with cybercrime, namely the Information Technology Act of 2000[3] and the Indian Penal Code of 1860[4].

Investigation

Section 78 of the IT Act provides that any offence under this Act shall be investigated by a police officer not below the rank of Inspector.  However, since the IT Act is insufficient to meet the need, the Criminal Procedure Code of 1973 and the Indian Penal Code of 1860 were also revised to include cyber-crime in their scope. This empowers the Inspector to register and investigate cyber-crime in the same way as he investigates any other crime.

The Process: Search And Arrest

Section 80 (1) of the IT Act stipulates that, notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, any police officer not below the rank of Inspector, or any other officer of the Central Government or State Government approved by the Central Government in this regard, can enter any premise or public place, search and arrest without warrant any person, who is reasonably suspected of having committed or of committing or about to commit an offence under the IT Act.

According to Section 80 (2) of the IT Act, any person arrested under sub-section (1) by an officer other than a police officer then such officer must take or send the arrested person before a magistrate with the jurisdiction of the case or the officer-in-charge of a police station without unreasonable delay.

Government Portal

The Government of India has launched www.cybercrime.gov.in[5], an online cyber-crime reporting platform that is a citizen-centric initiative that allows complainants to lodge complaints about child pornography/child sexual exploitation material or other sexually explicit content. The Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre has been established by the Central Government to handle cybercrime incidents in India in a comprehensive and organised manner.

How Can One File A Report?

One can report a cyber-crime by:

Provisions For Prosecution

Cyber Terrorism: – The terrorists are using virtual & physical storage for hiding data & records of their illegal business.

Applicable provisions: Section 66F & 69 of IT Act.

Hacking of Email Account: – If a person’s email account is hacked and offensive emails are sent to people who are in person’s address book.

Applicable provisions: Sections 43, 66, 66A, 66C, 67, 67A and 67B of IT Act.

Spreading Online Hate: – It is created for provoking a religious group to act or pass objectionable remarks against a public figure or the country etc.

Applicable provisions: Section 66A of IT Act + 153A & 153B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC)

Defacement Attacks on Websites: – In this Website’s homepage is swapped with a defamatory or pornographic content/ page.

Applicable provisions:  Sections 43 and 66 of IT Act and Sections 66F, 67 and 70 of IT Act also apply in some cases.

Some Major IPC Provisions

Section 354C IPC: – This section exclusively deals with the crime of ‘voyeurism’ which also recognizes watching such acts of a woman as a crime. If the essentials of this Section (such as gender) are not satisfied, Section 292 of IPC and Section 66E of IT Act, 2000 is broad enough to take the offenses of a similar kind into consideration. The punishment includes 1 to 3 years of imprisonment.[6]

Section 354D of IPC: This section describes and punishes ‘stalking’ including both physical and cyberstalking. If the woman is being monitored through electronic communication, internet, or email or is being bothered by a person to interact or contact despite her disinterest, it amounts to cyber-stalking. The latter part of the Section states the punishment for this offense as imprisonment extending up to 3 years[7].

Section 500 of IPC: This provision penalizes the defamation of any person. With respect to cybercrimes, sending any kind of defamatory content or abusive messages through email will be attracted by Section 500 of IPC. The imprisonment carried with this Section extends up to 2 years along with fine[8].

Conclusion

If one is a victim of cybercrime, it is important that a complaint is filed. Every police station has a Cyber Crime Investigation Cell, and we can file a complaint with the cyber cell directly by a mail. As a result, with cybercrime on the rise, we should be mindful of what we can do to safeguard ourselves. When using technology, one should be vigilant and protect themselves from data theft, financial fraud, and pornographic material. Since cybercrime is on the rise, it’s more important than ever to develop successful ties with law enforcement, the IT industry, information security organisations, and financial institutions. However, since the Indian justice system is ill-equipped to deal with virtual or internet crimes, it is up to individuals to defend themselves from becoming victims of cyber criminals.

[1] Hemani Sheth, Cyber crime activity on the rise this year, warn experts, BUSINESSLINE, (Sept. 16, 2020), https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/info-tech/cyber-crime-activity-on-the-rise-this-year-warn-experts/article32618717.ece

[2] Types of Cyber Crime, PANDA, https://www.pandasecurity.com/en/mediacenter/panda-security/types-of-cybercrime/

[3] The Information Technology Act, 2000, Act of the Indian Parliament (No 21 of 2000) 17 October 2000

[4] Indian Penal Code, 1860

[5] Shruti Gupta, How is cyber-crime investigation conducted, IPLEADERS, (Oct. 21, 2020), https://blog.ipleaders.in/cyber-crime-investigation-conducted/

[6] Section 354 C, IPC 1860

[7] Section 354 D IPC, 1860

[8] Section 500 IPC, 1860

This article has been written by Vatsal Bhargava, 3rd year student Institute of Law Nirma University, Ahmedabad, Gujarat.

Also Read – Law And Policy In Indian Cyberspace

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