Chennai had already marked its name in the history of Information Technology Act 2000 (ITA 2000) by being the first to get a conviction of a person in the Court of Law under a section of ITA 2000. Now Chennai again made a mark in ITA 2000 enforcement being the first of the southern states to register an application for adjudication under ITA 2000.

Mr C Umasankar, an NRI customer of ICICI bank became the trend setter by filing a complaint in connection with an alleged contravention of Section 43 of the ITA 2000 by ICICI Bank and one of its customers.

The adjudication procedure for dispute settlement is one of the laudable citizen friendly features of the Information Technology Act 2000 because it tries to put a time limit of 4 months under which the adjudicator is expected to give his award. The procedure is also relatively uncomplicated with a simple application form to be filed along with the required fee.

The adjudication process as per Section 46 of ITA 2000 can be invoked for any contravention under Chapter IX of the Act. This includes contraventions under Section 43 such as Unauthorized “Access”,’Downloading”,“Causing Damage or Disruption” “ Causing Denial Of Access”, “Introducing Virus”, “Using a resource and charging it to another person” or ”Assisting in contravention”.

Simultaneously, under Section 85, the process gets extended to Companies and its executives if there is lack of due diligence. ITA 2000 gives so much importance to this process that the Adjudicator has been given sole jurisdiction in all instances of contravention and no court can even grant an injunction for the proceedings.

Presently the IT Secretaries of every State or Union Territory in India have been designated as Adjudicators for the respective states. Despite such overwhelming advantages, it is strange that it has taken 8 years since ITA 2000 became effective for the first adjudication application to be filed anywhere in South India. The only other known application was in Delhi.

The lack of complaints does not indicate lack of eligible incidents since during this time several hundred complaints have been filed under ITA 2000 on criminal offences. Most Criminal offences such as hacking also results in contravention of ITA 2000 and hence there must have been several opportunities for adjudication application in states such as Karnataka where hundreds of Cyber Crime complaints have been filed. One of the reasons for the non utilization of the adjudication process could be lack of awareness of the provisions by the lawyers so that they can advise their clients appropriately.

It is also necessary for the State Governments to provide suitable training to the staff at the IT Secretary’s office so that it can effectively double up as the “Adjudicator’s Office”. There is perhaps a need for the Governments to think of providing a separate secretarial set up to the IT Secretary to support his duties as an Adjudicator.

While effective action regarding “Creation of Awareness”, “Building of support infrastructure in the IT Secretary’s office” etc is required in all States, the undersigned specially urges the new Karnataka Government to take necessary initiatives to see that the Silicon City does not continue to lag behind the neighboring states when it comes to Cyber Law Enforcement.

Naavi of Naavi.org

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