Cybercrimes in different forms have seen a phenomenal increase with small town scammers in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic and the present digital users are more vulnerable, making the situation highly demanding for a dedicated law, says an expert.
Referring to the model of crimes committed in Jamtara, Jharkhand, infamously known as the phishing capital of India, Dr. Pavan Duggal, Supreme Court lawyer and Chairman of the International Commission on Cyber Security Law, said there has been a surge of ‘mini-Jamtaras’ since the pandemic.
“We are seeing the mushrooming of the Jamtara model of cybercrime in India. Earlier there was one place, where cybercrimes were committed as a ‘community activity’. The current digital users accessing cyberspace are mostly without any appropriate knowledge or training financial cybercrime including online financial fraud along with identity theft and cyberattacks are the major cybercrimes in the Indian context,” he told IANS.
“In India, cybercrimes have been there for the last more than two decades. but the outbreak of Covid is the ‘golden age’ of cybercrimes. During this period, there was a massive increase in cybercrime in India. Let’s not deviate from the official figures. The Bureau of Police Research and Development is talking only about registered cases whereas in India the underreporting of cybercrime is so massive that official figures won’t tell you,” he said.
Crime and loss
Cybercriminals want to work the least and gain the most so they have been trying various methods through bank accounts, says Duggal, adding that the Indian cybercriminals are not great tech-savvy or well educated but they have mastered the misuse of the technology for criminal purposes.
We can see people in rural areas committing cyber crimes using small tools and mobiles and the loss of cybercrime is increasing. There are no officials figures in India about the loss due to cyber crimes
As per rough estimates, the global losses due to cybercrimes were more than $6 trillion in 2021 and the world is expected to lose more than $8 trillion by the end of 2022.
“It’s a very strange situation. But India as a nation is not at all prepared to deal with the deluge of cybercrime. the Indian legal frameworks are not ready. India does not have any dedicated law on cybercrime, so far,” he pointed out.
Law is the only hope
“We only have a particular Chapter XI of the Information Technology Act that deals with cyber offences. Plus certain cybercrimes are governed under the Indian Penal Code,” Duggal says.
Narrating his experiences, he said: ” I was a counsel for a complainant for India’s first cybercrime conviction in 2003. but after a couple of convictions, India began to see a drought or famine of convictions of cybercrime. This is because of IT Act 2008, which made almost all cyber crimes bailable offenses barring a few.”
Highlighting the challenges, the lawyer said: “Once the accused came out of bail they will recklessly incriminate the electronic evidence of the crime. Because of this scenario, Indian cyber crime conviction rate is less than 1 per cent.”
“India needs to do a lot of work, because even at a minuscule level cybercrime is not properly addressed and it could even have a negative prejudicial on the growth and impact on the GDP as a nation.
“A lot of capacity building has to be needed for this hour. The law needs to be amended. Actually, the law on cybercrime will serve India far better. Even the coverage of cybercrime under the Technology Act 2000 needs to be substantially expanded because the law has not been amended in the last 14 years and the technology has drastically moved forward. Further, there is also a need for dedicated cybercrime courts in the country. so that cybercrime matters can be propelled at a great speed.”
Cybercrime needs to be dealt with stringent punishment so that there will be fear in the minds of the criminals, he said.
“Currently, India has a cybercrime-friendly jurisdiction. Now the Supreme Court elaborates the law on electronic evidence very quickly and with the latest landmark judgment of Arjun Panditrao Khotkar vs Kailash Kushanrao Gorantyal, it is becoming even more difficult for law enforcement agencies to produce and move incriminating electronic evidence.
“There needs to be a time-bound trial in cybercrime matters. The government is already doing good things in this regard. We need to sensitise law enforcement agencies and the judiciary on cybercrime issues. Though it is probed by law enforcement agencies, it is ultimately decided in the court by the judges,” Duggal added.
(Jaison Wilson can be reached at email@example.com)