NEW DELHI: Despite the rampant rise in cybercrimes across the country, India’s only Cyber Appellate Tribunal (CAT) has remained headless for over three years, resulting in the increasing pendency of cybercrime cases.
The delay by the government in appointing CAT Chairman has forced the litigants to approach other higher courts which are already struggling with their own backlog of cases.
The tribunal was created to adjudicate cybercrimes and disputes such as hacking, sending of offensive or false messages, receiving stolen computer resource, identity theft, cheating by impersonation, violation of privacy, domain name disputes and other cyber fraud cases as well as to decide on the compensation of such crimes. In the absence of a chairperson, the 12-member staff at CAT is forced to adjourn cases.
The CAT was set up in 2009 by the Centre following huge number of complaints reaching local courts that pertained to Internet fraud. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, 2,876 cybercrime cases were registered under IT Act in 2012 as against 1,791 cases (2011) leading to 60.6 per cent rise in the number of cases.
Though the government appointed Justice S K Krishnan of Madras High Court as a member in 2011, his term got over in 2012. As per the Information Technology Act, a member currently has no power to pass orders or adjudicate, leaving the tribunal listless all these days.
“The CAT has passed no orders since the previous chairperson Justice Rajesh Tandon retired in 2011,” said an official of the tribunal.
The CAT was established under the IT Act and under the aegis of the Controller of Certifying Authorities (CCA). The tribunal has been vested with the same powers as a civil court.
Apart from criminal cases to be filed before a police cyber cell, an e-fraud victim can also approach an officer appointed by the state as an adjudicating officer with claims for compensation. The officer with a fair knowledge of cyber law, such as the state IT Secretary, has powers to impose a penalty on those who have contravened the Act.
An appeal can be filed before a cyber appellate authority against an adjudicating officer’s order. The appellate authority’s decision will then be binding and final.
The idea behind setting up this tribunal was to hear cases relating to objectionable content against Internet giants, such as ‘Google’ and ‘Facebook’, which were filed in courts that had little or no experience in delivering justice in cyber crimes.