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Delhi HC requests Centre and RBI stand in PIL against new age cyber crimes

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The Delhi High Court has raised awareness about issues concerning the rise in “new age” cyber crimes such as digital arrest scams, and the forging of court orders including those of the Supreme Court as well as FIRs and arrest warrants. These crimes have been used to extort “settlement money” from people. A two-judge bench, comprising Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Manmeet Pritam Singh Arora, has requested responses from the respondents — the Centre, and Reserve Bank of India among others — and scheduled the next hearing for March 19.

The public interest litigation (PIL) plea has been made in pursuit of guidelines to better coordinate between the agencies for a “swifter investigation” of cybercrimes. The plea intends to enhance awareness campaigns and simplify the procedures to file complaints against cyber crimes. The petitioners’ advocates, Akshya and Urvashi Bhatia, have urged the authorities in whose names the scams are being operated to conduct “awareness campaigns” and have further requested the mandate for the streamlining of procedures for filing complaints against cyber crimes.

In the previous hearing, the High Court had acknowledged that cybercrime is a “genuine problem” and had voiced that the “whole policing system has to be reformed” to rise to this “new challenge”. The Cyber Crime cell of India was created to investigate and handle Cyber Crimes, but with the advancement of technology, increasingly sophisticated methods have been deployed to exploit and deceive the public. The handling of these sophisticated methods is new and challenging and therefore requires advanced and reformed policing systems to counter the growing threat.

Cybercrime has seen a significant acceleration in this age of advanced technology which facilitates the newer, more complex methods of fraud committed on digital platforms. These include identity theft, deep fake scams, and other types of cyber extortion that are utilized to swindle unsuspecting individuals and organisations. It is in response to these transgressions that the PIL plea has been submitted to the Delhi High Court to initiate the formulation of a well-coordinated system to expedite the investigation process. This mechanism would enable a more efficient and effective process to address the complications arising in the investigation of these cyber crimes, and may help address the incessant nature of such criminal activities.

The concern over increasing cyber crime and the necessity to reforming the policing system has attracted the attention of the High Court and invoked a response from the two-judge bench. As the matter progresses through the legal system and authorities, the outcomes may yield a much-needed reform in the country’s approach to dealing with cyber crime, and it may lead to a more efficient and proactive response in combating the growing number and complexity of cyber criminal activities.

The hearing on March 19 will provide an opportunity for the respondents — which includes the Centre, the Reserve Bank of India, and other relevant agencies — to furnish their stand on the matter before the Delhi High Court. The authorities concerned are expected to present their perspective and any action taken or planned in connection to the plea. The court will consider their responses as part of the legal process before it determines the next course of action.

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