Low Cyber – Crime Convictions in India: An Analysis

Posted On - 29 May, 2024 • By - King Stubb & Kasiva


Cyber Crime, as the term suggests, refers to the illegal acts committed by the users of a computer or a computer network or any other networked device wherein various criminal activities such as fraudulent transactions, identity theft, privacy violation, banking frauds and trafficking of private data may be committed. In the present day technological setup where the internet and social network including online transactions and e – banking, the risk of cyber – crimes and its reported instances have increased manifold, especially in the past half decade.

Presently, the Indian legal system has various laws to combat the cyber – crimes and prosecute those who are found guilty of committing cyber crimes under various statutes such as the Indian Penal Code, 1860; Indian Evidence Act, 1872; Information Technology Act, 2000; and the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934. With the inclusion of new criminal laws in the country namely Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023; Bharatiya Nagrik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023 and the Bharatiya Sakshya Sanhita, 2023; the legislature has attempted to introduce new and holistic provisions of law to counter such activities.

Reasons for Low Cyber Crime Convictions in India

Even though the government of India through its various organs and the provisions of Information Technology Act, 2000 has tried to set up various investigation units along with compliance mechanisms to combat and counter cyber crimes and ensure effective prosecution of the offenders, the rate of conviction in cyber crimes has been very low. There are several underlying reasons behind such low rates of conviction which are as follows:

  1. Lack of technical expertise – In the present day, the cyber – crime investigating agencies and cyber – crime combating law enforcement agencies are ill – equipped with the technical and technological knowledge to collect, trace and analyse digital evidences accurately along with tracing digital footprints in order to effectively prosecute the offenders. Additionally, the resources to undertake such activities are also not available equally across the country leading to disparity in cyber – forensic mechanisms which further leads to perishing of already volatile forensic evidences. The Central Cyber – Forensics Laboratory (CCFL) and State Forensic Science Laboratories (SFSL) have also been setup at every state level in order to ensure that there is co – operation between both the levels as well as proper investigation of several offences.
  2. Cross – border crimes: The very nature of cyber – crimes is based in such a manner that the cyber – criminals can operate from anywhere across the globe to target computer or digital systems located in India and act in furtherance of committing cyber – crimes. Additionally, foreign entities may use ransomware or malware which may be undetected or untraced by the law enforcement authorities in India leading to cyber – terrorism and data pilferage of sensitive information. Moreover, cross border crimes are not only difficult to trace but also nearly impossible to prosecute since the offender’s custody may have to be obtained only after collaboration with the international bodies and authorities. For instance, the transactions in dark – web which may involve child pornography or sale of contraband and prohibited commodities may remain untraced due to lack of mechanism for regulation of such websites or portals. Last but not the least, cross – jurisdictional prosecution also becomes a jurisdictional nightmare due to bureaucratic permissions and red – tapism.
  3. Under – reporting of cyber – crimes: Even though the cyber – crime convictions are already low in the country, there is huge under – reporting of cyber – crimes due to lack of public trust and intricately minute detail oriented level of the cyber – crime investigation in the country. The cyber – crime cell is often not properly setup in each and every district of the country and even in the districts and police stations where such mechanisms have been setup, the technical expertise and adequate equipments have not been provided to the investigation officers.
  4. Legal Framework for prosecution and trial – the legal framework under the Information Technology Act and the Indian Penal Code for trial of cyber offences along with its prosecution and trial is not properly developed due to the fact that there are numerous offences that have been shown bailable in the statute which leaves a huge window for the offenders to commit such offences again after they have been released on bail. Moreover, the system of presenting evidence in front of magistrates and judges also leads to a huge lacunae in the system due to the fact that electronic evidence is largely perishable in nature and may be masked or deleted by the time the trial takes place leading to weakening the arguments and case of the prosecution.

Way Forward and Conclusion

There is a need to reform the investigative system of cyber – crimes in the country by effectively empowering the law – enforcement agencies in terms of adequate resources, knowledge training and man power along with setting up cyber – cells or cyber – police stations in each district. Moreover there should also be conscious efforts towards creating adequate cordial relations between the investigation cum law enforcement agencies and the judiciary and prosecution officers.

Secondly, there should be collective efforts towards promoting proper – reporting of cyber crimes both at the police station level as well as through the use of online resources which would enable the investigative agencies to take actions without any delay and promptly identify the accused. Also, at the international level there should be proper functioning of international treatises and conventions governing cyber – crimes since the borderless advent of the World Wide Web makes the cyber – crimes not a country specific issue but a problem that relates to the entire world order.

King Stubb & Kasiva,
Advocates & Attorneys

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