February 7, 2017 1:14:13 am
A budgetary allocation of Rs 100 crore for cyber security projects including the setting up of the National Cyber Coordination Centre may point towards the Centre’s increasing focus on these issues in backdrop of growing online financial transactions. However, the lack of appropriate redressal mechanisms for consumers, both regulatory and legal, to settle any disputes arising out of digital payments remain a concern.
The Centre plans to notify an examiner of electronic evidence, who would be responsible for authenticating such evidences presented in courts. This assumes significance as currently only a small number of forensic labs are authorised to authenticate.
“As of date, only specific labs notified by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, can authenticate electronic evidences, which leaves most of the law enforcement agencies with electronic evidences that are not admissible in court,” a senior government official said.
These evidences may not only be for cyber crime cases, but also for other type of cases. The agencies, which apply to become examiners of electronic evidence, would be required to have expertise in a number of forensics such as computer (media) forensics, network (cyber) forensics, mobile device forensics, digital video/image & CCTV forensics, digital audio forensics, device specific forensics, and digital equipment.
The Section 79 A of the IT (Amendment) Act 2008 mandates the government to notify such an examiner for the purpose of providing “expert opinion” on the electronic evidence before any court or other authority, the official said, adding that the notification of such examiners would be initially done on a pilot basis, and would later be spread across the country with at least one such cyber lab in every district. As per the plans chalked out by the IT ministry, only central or state government agencies and bodies with expertise in forensics would be appointed as examiners.
While the government is strengthening the legal system to ensure speedy resolution of cases with electronic evidence, the Cyber Appellate Tribunal (CyAT), seen as a specialised forum to redress cyber frauds when it was set up in 2006, has not passed any judicial order since 2011 when its last chairperson retired. Since then the post has been lying vacant. Furthermore, the government has proposed to merge CyAT with the Telecom Disputes Settlement & Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT).
As per the orders on the website of the CyAT, cases listed are heard by the tribunal, but are immediately adjourned. “As the post of Hon’ble Chairperson is vacant, the proceedings are adjourned sine die. As and when the Tribunal becomes functional, the information in this regard will be posted on the Tribunal’s website, cyatindia.gov.in,” read the orders for all the cases taken up on January 9, after which the tribunal has not convened till yet.
A recent report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India observed that after retirement of the last chairperson in June 2011, no chairperson was appointed as of June 2016, and hence no judicial order was pronounced during this period. “However, members and other staff continued to render services in the CyAT since then and expenditure of Rs 27.64 crore were incurred on its establishment for the period from 2011-12 to 2015-16 without carrying out its primary business of hearing and disposal of appeals,” the CAG report said.
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