Know Cyber Crime offences – Punishment under Cyber Law

Cyber Crimes as well as Offenses/Punishments and Penalties imposed under The Information Technology Act 2000.

Inventions, discoveries and technologies widen scientific horizons but also pose new challenges for the legal world. Information Technology brought about by Computers, Internet and Cyberspace has also posed new challenges in jurisprudence in dealing with the changes brought about by the information technology- the way we live, perceive and do business.

The Courts throughout the world have been dealing with the aforesaid new challenge and enacted few statutory provisions seeking solution to the new challenges. Even in India still there is inadequacy of law in this field though we have enacted Information Technology Act 2000. It seeks to remedy most of the problems. The IT Act has also amended the following four Acts also viz., The Indian Penal Code 1860 The Indian Evidence Act 1872 The Bankers’ Book Evidence Act 1891 The Reserve Bank of India Act 1934 The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) adopted the Model Law on Electronic Commerce in 1996 in order to bring uniformity in the law of different Countries. The General Assembly of the United Nations by Resolution recommended that all the States should give favorable considerations to this Model Law when they enact or revise their laws. The Model Law provides for equal legal treatment of users of electronic communication and paper based communication so does the Information Technology Act 2000 (IT ACT) It is in consonance with the Model Law.

Penalty for damage to Computer, Computer system etc. : If any person without permission of the owner or any other person who is in charge of a Computer, Computer System or Computer Network –

  • access such Computer, Computer system or Computer network
  • downloads, copies or extracts any data, Computer data-base or information
  • introduces or causes to be introduced any Computer contaminant or Computer Virus
  • damages or causes to be damaged any Computer, Computer System or Computer network data, database or any other programmes
  • disrupts or causes disruption
  • denies or causes the denial of access to any person authorized to access
  • provides any assistance to any person to facilitate access in contravention of the provisions of this Act
  • charges the services availed of by a person to the account of another person by tampering with or manipulating any Computer, Computer System or Computer network,
  • he shall be liable to pay damages upto Rs.10,00,000/-(ten lakhs of rupees) to the person so affected .

Penalty for failure to furnish information, return etc. : If any person who is required under this Act or any rules or regulations made there under to :

  • furnish any document, return or report to the Controller or the Certifying Authority fails to furnish the same, he shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding Rs.1,50,000/( one lakh and fifty thousand rupees) for each such failure .
  • file any return or furnish any information, books or other documents within the time specified therefor in the regulations fails to file return or furnish the same within the time specified therefor in the regulations, he shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding Rs.5,000/-(rupees five thousand) per day during which such failure continues .
  • maintain books of account or records, fails to maintain the same, he shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding Rs.10,000/-(Rupees ten thousand) for everyday during which the failure continues .

Residuary Penalty : Whoever contravenes any rules or regulations made under this Act, for the contravention of which no penalty has been separately provided, shall be liable to pay a compensation not exceeding twenty-five thousand rupees(Rs.25,000/-) to the person affected by such contravention or a penalty not exceeding twenty-five thousand rupees .

OFFENCES

  • Tampering with Computer source documents: Whoever knowingly or intentionally conceals, destroys or alters or intentionally or knowingly causes another to conceal, destroy or alter any computer source code is required to be kept or maintained by law for the time being in force, shall be punishable with imprisonment upto three years or with fine which may extend upto two lakhs(Rs.2,00,000/-) or with both .
  • Hacking with Computer System: Whoever with the intent to cause or knowing that he is likely to cause wrongful loss or damage to the public or any person destroys or deletes or alters any information residing in a computer resource or diminishes its value or utility or affects it injuriously by any means, commits hacking .
  • Whoever commits hacking shall be punished with imprisonment upto Three years, or with fine which may extend upto Two Lakhs rupees(Rs.2,00,000/-) or with both .
  • Publishing of Information which is obscene in electronic form: Whoever publishes or transmits or causes to be published in the electronic form, any material which is lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest or if its effect is such as to tend to deprave and corrupt persons who are likely, having regard to all relevant circumstances to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied in it shall be punished on first convictionwith imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years and with fine which may extend to one lakh rupees(Rs.1,00,000/-) and in the event of a second or subsequent conviction with imprinsonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years and also with fine which may extend to two lakh rupees(Rs.2,00,000/-) .
  • Power of Controller to give directions : The Controller may by order direct a Certifying Authority or any employee of such Authority to take such measures or cease carrying on such activities as specified in the order if those are necessary to ensure compliance with the provisions of this Act rules or any regulations made there under .
  • Any person who fails to comply with the above directions shall be guilty of an Offence and shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or to a fine not exceeding two lakh rupees(Rs.2,00,000/-) or to both .
  • Directions of Controller to a subscriber to extend facilities to decrypt information:If the Controller is satisfied that it is necessary or expedient to do in the interest of the sovereignty or integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognizable offense, for reasons to be recorded in writing by order direct any agency of the Government to intercept any information transmitted through any computer resource .
  • The Subscriber or any person in charge of the Computer Resource shall, when called upon by any agency which has been directed as above shall extend all facilities and technical assistance to decrypt the information .
  • The Subscriber or any person who fails to assist the agency referred to in above sub-section shall be punished with an imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years .

PROTECTED SYSTEM : Any Computer, computer system or computer network can be declared protected system by the Government by Notification . Only authorized persons can have access to the protected system. Any person who secures access or attempts to secure access to a protected system in contravention of the provision shall be punished with imprisonment up to ten years and shall also be liable to fines.

PENALTY FOR MISREPRESENTATION: For obtaining any licence or Digital Signature Certificate if any person makes any misrepresentation or suppresses any material fact, he shall be punished with imprisonment up to two years or with fine up to one lakh rupees or with both.

PENALTY FOR BREACH OF CONFIDENTIALITY AND PRIVACY: If any person has secured access to any electronic record, book, register, correspondence, information, document or other material without the consent of the person concerned and discloses the same to any other person then he shall be punished with imprisonment up to two years, or with fine up to one lakh rupees or with both.

PENALTY FOR PUBLISHING DIGITAL SIGNATURE CERTIFICATE FALSE IN CERTAIN PARTICULARS: If any person publishes a Digital Signature Certificate or otherwise makes it available to any other person with the knowledge that (i) The Certifying Authority listed in the Certificate has not issued it or (ii) The subscriber listed in the certificate has not accepted it or (iii) The certificate has been revoked or suspended unless such publication is for the purpose of verifying a digital signature created prior to such suspension or revocation, he shall be punished with imprisonment up to one lakh rupees or with both.

PUBLICATION FOR FRAUDULENT PURPOSE: If any person knowingly creates, publishes or otherwise makes available a Digital Signature Certificate for any fraudulent or unlawful purpose, he shall be punished with imprisonment up to two years, or with fine up to one lakh rupees, or with both. The Information Technology Act 2000 to apply for offence or contravention committed outside India (Sec.75) (1) Subject to the provisions of sub-section(2), the provisions of this Act shall apply also to any offence or contravention committed outside India by any person irrespective of his nationality. (2) For the purposes of sub-section(1), this Act shall apply to an offence or contravention committed outside India by any person if the act or conduct constituting the offence or contravention involves a computer, computer system or computer network located in India.

Sec.76 CONFISCATION: Any Computer, Computer System, floppies, compact disks, tape drives or any other accessories related thereto, in respect of which any provision of this Act, rules, orders or regulations made there under has been or is being contravened shall be liable to confiscation. Provided that where it is established to the satisfaction of the court adjudicating the Confiscation that the person in whose possession, power or control of any such computer, computer system, floppies, compact disks, tape drives or any other accessories relating thereto is found is not responsible for the contravention of the provisions of this Act, rules, orders or regulations made there under , the court may instead of making an order for confiscation of such computer, computer system floppies compact disks, tape drives or any other accessories related thereto, make such other order authorized by this Act against the person contravening of the provisions of this Act rules orders or regulations made there under as it may think fit.

Sec.77-Penalties or confiscation not to interfere with other punishments: No penalty imposed or confiscation made under this Act shall prevent the imposition of any other punishment to which the person affected thereby is liable under any other law for the time being in force.

Sec.78- Power to investigate offences: Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973(2 of 1974) a police officer not below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police shall investigate any offence under this Act.

Sec.79- Network service providers not to be liable in certain cases: For the removal of doubts, it is hereby declared that no person providing any service as a network service provider shall be liable under this Act, rules or regulations made there under for any third party information or data made available by him if he proves that the offence or contravention was committed without his knowledge or that he had exercised all due diligence to prevent the commission of such offence or contravention [For the purposes of this Section- Network service provider means an intermediary Third party information means any information dealt with by a network service provider in his capacity as an intermediary.

POWER OF POLICE OFFICER AND OTHER OFFICERS TO ENTER SEARCH ETC : * 1. Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973(2 of 1974), any police officer not below the rank of a Deputy Superintendent of Police, or any other officer of the Central Government or a State Government authorized by the Central Government in this behalf may enter any public place and search and arrest without warrant any person found therein who is reasonably suspected of having committed or of committing or of being about to commit any offence under this Act .
Explanation: For the purposes of this sub-section, the expression public place includes any public conveyance, any hotel, any shop or any other place intended for use by, or accessible to the public .
1. Where any person is arrested under sub-section (1) by an officer other than a police officer, such officer shall, without unnecessary delay, take or send the person arrested before a magistrate having jurisdiction in the case or before the officer-in-charge of a police station .
2. The provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 (2 of 1974) shall, subject to the provisions of this section, apply, so far as may be, in relation to any entry, search or arrest made under this section .

Section 81: Act to have overriding effect: The provisions of this act shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in any other law for the time being in force.

Sec.81A :Application of the Act to electronic cheque and truncated cheque:
1. The provisions of this Act, for the time being in force, shall apply to, or in relation to electronic cheques and the truncated cheques subject to such modifications and amendments as amy be necessary for carrying out the purposes of the Negotiable instruments Act, 1881 (26 of 1881), by the Central Government, in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India, by notification in the Official Gazette .
2. Every notification made by the Central Government under sub-section(1) shall be laid, as soon as may be after it is made, before each House of Parliament, while it is in session, for a total period of thirty days which may be comprised in one session or in two or more successive sessions, and if before the expiry of the sessions immediately following the session or the successive sessions aforesaid, both Houses agree in making any modification in the notification should not be made, the notification shall thereafter have effect only in such modified form or be of no effect, as the case may be, so however, that any such modification or annulment shall be without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done under that notification .
Explanation: For the purpose of this Act, the expressions electronic cheque and truncated cheque shall have the same meaning as assigned to them in section 6 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881(26 of 1881) .

Sec.82 Controller, Deputy Controller and Assistant Controllers to be public servants: The presiding Officer and other officers and employees of a Cyber Appellate Tribunal, the Controller, the Deputy Controller and the Assistant Controllers shall be deemed to be public servants within the meaning of section 21 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860) .

Sec.83 Power of give directions: The Central Government may give directions to any State Governent as to the carrying into execution in the State of any of the provisions of this Act or of any rule, regulation or order made there under.

Sec.84 Protection of action taken in good faith: No suit, prosecution or other legal proceeding shall lie against the Central Government, the State Government, the Controller or any person acting on behalf of him, the Presiding Officer, adjudicating officers and the staff of the Cyber Appellate Tribunal for anything which is in good faith done or intended to be done in pursuance of this Act or any rule, regulation or order made there under.

Sec.85 Offences by Companies: (1) Where a person committing a contravention of any of the provisions of this Act or of any rule, direction or order made there under is a company, every person who, at the time the contravention was committed, was in charge of, and was responsible to, the Company for the conduct of business of the company as well as the company, shall be guilty of the contravention and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly. Provided that nothing contained in this sub-section shall render any such person liable to punishment if he proves that the contravention took place without his knowledge or that he exercised all due diligence to prevent such contravention .
Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), where a contravention of any of the provisions of this Act or of any rule, direction or order made there under has been committed by a company and it is proved that the contravention has taken place with the consent or connivance of, or is attributable to any neglect on the part of, any director, manager, secretary or other officer of the company, such director, manager, secretary or other officer shall also be deemed to be guilty of the contravention and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly .
Explanation: For the purposes of this section:-
i. Company means any body corporate and includes a firm or other association of individuals and
ii. director in relation to a firm, means a partner in the firm .

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