Computer Crime Research Center


Cyber crime: few cases qualify, ones that do get stuck in court

Date: January 15, 2005
Source: Cities.ExpressIndia.Com
By: Vinita Deshmukh

Shouldn’t a fine of Rs 1 lakh and five years rigorous imprisonment be enough of a deterrent for men to pry on women through webcams and mobile cameras?

Apparently not. For, cases such as the one involving the Navi Peth landlord Kulkarni, who used webcams to spy on his paying guests, do not reach a logical conclusion in courts fast enough.

Meera Borwankar, JCP, Mumbai and head of Crime Branch under whose jurisdiction is the cyber crime cell, is emphatic: ‘‘It’s all about taking strict action. Cases must be tried immediately and the culprit punished. If this is done people will be wary of committing this crime.’’

Experts believe that the law is powerful enough. Under Section 67 of the IT Act 2000, if there is enough evidence to prove that the objectionable material has been published, distributed or circulated, then the penalty is Rs 1 lakh and five years RI for the first time offender — the penalty doubles for a repeat offender.

‘‘The law provides for stringent action and covers the entire gamut of illegal cyber activities,’’ said Rohas Nagpal, president of the Asian School of Cyber Laws. ‘‘However, due to the courts being overburdened, the law takes its own course. What is required is awareness, though with more and more youngsters owning mobile phones with cameras and webcams, such incidences are bound to go up.’’

ACP Sanjay Jadhav of Pune Crime Branch has been dealing with cyber crime since the last couple of years and he receives about four to five complaints (including incidents of hacking and objectionable sms) every month but most do not qualify as offences.

‘‘Although on the face of it, all such cases seem to have the same features, each one is different. While the IT Act has no provision for seeking legal permission for the installation of a web camera, the investigating officer will look at a case depending on the motive of the person and the evidence found against him.’’

Borwankar says it is impractical to expect the police force to get into people’s homes and conduct checks. ‘‘I am not in favour of the law giving powers to the police to check how these hi-tech equipment are being used - it will become another license Raj, besides we do not have the resources or the manpower.’’

Her only suggestion is for women to be on guard. ‘‘Be careful when you are in pubs or other public places. Otherwise they might end up getting into a Kareena (Kapoor) like situations.’’

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