Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Cyber Crime Police Station In Mumbai: Will It Be Effective?

The Mumbai Police’ specialised Cyber Crime police station is finally up and running. This new dedicated police station, the first-of-its-kind in the state, was launched on May 30. An existing Cyber Crime Investigation Cell of the Mumbai Police Crime Branch investigates cyber offences, but the FIRs in these cases are registered in different local police stations depending on the scene of the offence.

This was a much needed action required on the part of Mumbai police. With a specialised police station cyber crimes and contraventions can now be tackled effectively. Although the first step has been taken in the right direction, yet there is a dire need of training of police personnel that is presently missing all over India, including Mumbai. Cyber crimes require good techno-legal knowledge that is presently missing. We have to do much more than mere “declarations of sufficiency”.

For instance, cyber law awareness 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. It is senseless to claim themselves trained in cyber law when they are not even aware what the India cyber law is all about. Even the Department of Information Technology (DIT) and Government of India (GOI) are “responsible” for “deliberately misleading” the people, media and police force.

Firstly, the Mumbai police registered a case of “cyber terrorism” when a threat email was sent to the BSE and NSE. It is proudly claimed to be the first in the State since an amendment to the Information Technology Act has been proposed.

Secondly, in the present case, the police had initially planned that as many as four Assistant Commissioners of Police (ACPs) would be posted at the new Cyber Crime police station, since only officers of the rank of ACP and above were allowed to register and investigate offences under the IT Act, 2000. However, the decision to have only one ACP heading the police station was taken after a recent amendment to the IT Act allowing officers of the rank of Police Inspectors to register and investigate cyber offences.

The bigger question is how can police consider, muchless utlilse, the provisions of a law that hasnot come into force yet”? Till the Information Technology Amendment Act, 2008 isnotifiedby 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 accused under the amended law is a big mystery?

Perhaps they are “too much trained” for cyber law and cyber crimes and hence 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.

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