Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Compensation Ordered For Corporate Negligence In Cyber Crime Cases In India

Human rights violation in cyberspace may take many shapes. One of them is the negligence committed by the Internet service providers (ISPs). The infamous case of Lakshamana Kailash's arrest by police for the negligence of Bharti Airtel is a classical example of the same. In a welcome step the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission (MSHRC) has directed Bharti Airtel to pay Rs 2 lakh as compensation to the Bangalore-based techie for providing wrong information to the police that led to his arrest in 2007. Although the compensation awarded is meager as compared to the claimed compensation of 20 crores yet the gesture of suo motu action on the part of MSHRC is really praise worthy.

The story of Lakshamana Kailash's arrest smacks of all that can go wrong with an investigation. Kailash spent 50 horrifying days in a Pune jail after he was arrested by the police on the basis of information provided by Bharti Airtel regarding the Internet protocol (IP) address used to create a profile on Orkut defaming Shivaji. The Commission, which took up the case suo motu after reading newspaper reports, found that Bharti Airtel provided wrong information to the police on the IP address as they made a mistake in the time for which the information was sought. The 12-hour time difference for information provided led to the arrest of the wrong person.

"In our opinion, the company officials misled the police by providing wrong information. They did not care to check whether the requested time was AM or PM and gave details of the victim who used the IP address in the morning instead of night," The Commission noted in its June order.

On the basis of information provided by Bharti Airtel, Kailash was arrested on September 1, 2007. Subsequently, when yahoo provided its independent information, the three real culprits were arrested on October 3, 2007. Despite arresting the real culprits, it was only on October 20, 2007 that the police filed an application to release Kailash.

It seems the issues of human rights protection in cyberspace in India are going to be frequent in the future.