Problem of Cybercrime Troubling Everyone, Policing System Needs to be Reformed: HC

Stressing that cybercrime is a genuine problem that is troubling everyone, the Delhi High Court on Tuesday suggested that authorities adopt a simple process of filing complaints for such cases, increase awareness among people on the “important” issue, among other steps to check the menace.

The high court said the policing system has to be reformed and police have to gear up to deal with these new challenges and be updated with new technology.

It observed that scamsters do not discriminate among their targets and they do not care whether it is a lawyer, judge, businessman or any other person. They just make indiscriminate calls and commit fraud with people.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Manmeet PS Arora said, “Cybercrime is a genuine problem today. Everyone is getting troubled. This is something unique happening now. We don’t know what the authorities can do about this. Only awareness can work. Awareness is needed.”

The high court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) on the issue of increasing cyber crimes and forging of court orders, including those of the Supreme Court, as well as FIRs and arrest warrants to extort settlement money’ from innocent unsuspecting citizens.

“The petition has been filed to bring to the notice of this court the issue of rapidly multiplying and mutating menace of cybercrime which has now taken an even perilous turn and emerged into the new kind of skullduggery, that is, digital arrest’ scam which poses a greater severe threat…,” said the plea filed by lawyer Akshya and Urvashi Bhatia.

It is of grave concern as these scams have “now infiltrated into the very fabric of our criminal justice system, endangering its integrity and functionality”, it said.

The petitioners claimed that websites of central as well as state cyber cells are inactive and do not post anything to increase awareness amongst people on the latest cyber crimes happening in the country.

They further submitted that authorities must run awareness campaigns on the issue and the procedure of reporting cyber crime complaints must be made simpler.

The high court, however, said the prayers mentioned in the plea were different from what was being sought in oral submissions and asked the petitioners to amend their plea.

The high court, which listed the matter for further hearing on January 30, asked the Delhi government standing counsel, Santosh Kumar Tripathi, and lawyer Arun Panwar, appearing for Delhi Police, to take instructions on having a simple digital facility for people to lodge cyber crime complaints via emails.

Tripathi submitted that a centralised number 1089 is already there and people can lodge complaints on it.

The bench, however, said the numbers are generally not functional and digital facilities should be made available.

“Suppose someone succeeds in transmitting money. Money has to be blocked immediately. It cannot be done till you have a digital system in place. Otherwise, money will cross the boundaries of this country. You won’t be able to reach it,” the court told the police’s counsel.

“Even if the money is given through banks, it will go out of the country in 15 minutes. I think they (petitioners) are giving good suggestions. One is to create awareness and the other is to have a (simple) mechanism to lodge complaints,” Justice Manmohan said.

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The court also mentioned that nowadays a lot of celebrities are complaining that they never made endorsements but the same are still coming.

It also asked the counsel for the central government to take instructions on having a unified system of checking the genuineness of orders passed by authorities.

The grave concern is the audacious impersonation of government authorities and police officers by these cyber criminals, the court said.

“By assuming false identities, they are not only exploiting the trust placed in these institutions but also eroding public confidence in the criminal justice system.

“This not only undermines the credibility of the system but also poses a direct threat to the safety and well-being of innocent citizens,” it said.

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