The NDA government is considering changes to the Evidence Act to make it easier to deal with cases of cyber crime.
The main contention is that when law enforcement agencies have started accepting online complaints then a provision should exist for online submission of evidence also, a senior Home Ministry official said.
The Indian Evidence Act framed in 1872 has been amended only once in 2000. An expert group constituted by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has made a number of recommendations, the foremost being an overhaul of the Act to make it dynamic.
Expressing concern over the implications of the crime committed through “dark web,” the committee asked the security agencies to develop a mechanism to monitor it.
Rise in cyber crime
The committee headed by Dr. Gulshan Rai, National Cyber Security Coordinator, suggested that while there had been a 50 per cent rise in cases of cyber crime in 2014 compared with 2013, the conviction rate had been quite low for want of evidence.
Cyber expert Pavan Duggal said the Evidence Act was amended in 2000 in the “era of personal computers,” and now should be changed to be in tune with the times of “mobile phones and cloud computing.”According to Section 65 B (2) of the Act, any electronic evidence to be permissible in court has to be certified by the signature of the person concerned, to whom the computer belonged.
Essentially, a certified document has to be attached to any kind of evidence generated from a computer, without application of logic that the contents in the computer could itself have been tampered with. Senior officials in the government felt that this was an impediment on many occasions since it cannot be applied to mobile-based web applications like WhatsApp and other messenger services.
According to data available with the National Crime Records Bureau, 4,356 cases of cyber crime were reported in 2013 compared with 2,876 in 2012.
The expert group submitted a detailed report to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh after examining the global practices on cyber crime prevention.
The government will also propose making “cyber crime” distinct in all treaties it signs with foreign countries. “We have mutual agreement treaties with various countries on crime and legal matters, from now on we will insist that cyber crime be included as a separate head,” said a senior government official.
The official added that they would build consensus on issues like child pornography and get information relevant to the Indian context.
A separate agency for online reporting of cases pertaining to cyber crime is also being explored by the government.
“States will be issued an advisory to create specialised wings and to induct only those officials who have a knack for such work. Say a policeman who has always tackled law and order may not be suitable for the job,” said the official.