Cyber Civil Liabilities in Eastern India

It has been almost eight and a half years since the inception of  the Indian cyber laws in the form of “The Information Technology Act, 2000” but the implementation or use of the statute’s provisions related to cyber civil liabilities seems to have never even been considered significant enough whether by individual clients or even corporate entities in the eastern part of India (specifically Kolkata). Ordinary civil courts are barred from having any jurisdiction in matters pertaining to The IT Act thereby making the roles of the Adjudicating Officer as well as the Cyber Tribunal (Delhi) much more emphatic. However unfortunately, the city of Kolkata has hardly seen any matters reaching the Adjudicating Officer.

 

The IT Act enumerates the various civil liabilities under Chapter IX of the statute including provisions related to unauthorized access, introduction of contaminants, copying, downloading, damage, disruption, denial of access and provides the possibility of the victim receiving a maximum compensation of upto Rs. One Crore. It is strangely surprising that a major city like Kolkata has hardly got any matters registered with the Adjudicating Officer and if records are to go by, currently there seems to be not even a single matter before the AO. This may lead many to come to the hasty conclusion that cyber crimes have not reached the cyber horizon of the city’s large database of Internet users, but this would be an erroneous assessment if only relied upon records.

 

The fact is Kolkata does have its fair share of cyber crimes and abuse and Cyber Crime Cells of the city are having to investigate several matters as we speak. But what needs to be realised is that perhaps the existence of the cyber civil liabilities provides an easier opportunity for victims to get compensation as the “Penalties” provisions completely undermine the requirement of any knowledge or intention. Thus the occurence of any event as described under the various sub-sections of Section 43 would prima facie entitle the victim to a possible compensation, although the said is entirely dependent on the Adjudicating Officer who has to assess the compensation on various factors as mentioned in the statute. The civil liability provisions should be seen as a convenient redressal opportunity for those city businesses who seem to get periodically affected by nuisances such as cyber trespass or unauthorised access, introduction of malicious programs, damages or disruption to computers, access denial instances and such other scenarios. The forum is available for them to approach and try for a legitimate compensation under the Act, however unfortunately this forum continues to be ignored and undermined. It is not that the city’s young breed of professionals are not aware of cyber laws and such related provisions as my personal experience tells me that a large number of the young graduates today are cyber savvy and more aware bout technology related laws than many give them credit for. Although a very personal opinion, but I can argue that the city’s lack of cyber civil matters owes more to the lack of awareness among victims of the available grievance redressal forum that exists for them to easily access.

Being the promoter and supporter of cyber laws in Kolkata, I hope that I will be able to actively bring this issue up for discussions on important platforms including symposiums, conferences and workshops that will be hosted by Global School of Tech Juris in the near future. I am certain that the right amount of awareness among the city netizens will bring about a positive change thus opening the doors to cyber civil matters which will ensure that citizens are not only able to use this forum to redress their grievances but also that the budding legal professionals will be able to give this area a serious thought.

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One Response

  1. Nice article and good efforts. Cyber Crimes in India cannot be reduced till we make strong cyber laws. We cannot do so by mere declaring a cat as a tiger. Cyber law of India must also be supported by sound cyber security and effective cyber forensics. We cannot expect much in the absence of legal enablement of ICT systems in India.

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