The Mumbai cyber cell secured first ever conviction in Maharashtra under the IT act on Friday. The case was investigated by the cell for online stalking in 2009. A metropolitan magistrate court convicted Yogesh Prabhu for stalking and sending obscene images to his colleague. The court sentenced him to three-years imprisonment and a fine of Rs 10,000 under relevant sections of the IT Act and Rs 5,000 fine under the Indian Penal Code. The conviction was procured on evidence, including crucial witness statement stating that the crime was committed using a laptop sponsored by office.
According to the prosecution’s case, the complainant communicated with Prabhu through online networking site Orkut. However, on one occasion Prabhu sent the complainant obscene messages, following which she removed him from her friend list. A few days later, she received an email from an unknown person with “foul and objectionable language”, a press release said. The complainant continued to receive the emails and she eventually sent a complaint to the joint commissioner of police (crime).
Following the complaint, the cyber cell traced the IP address and found that it was sent from the same office where she worked and it was the same person the complainant chatted with, Prabhu.
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According to the press release, Prabhu had created a separate ID to send the obscene emails to the complainant from his office laptop. A chargesheet was filed in the case against Prabhu in September 2009.
Senior Inspector Mukund Pawar said the case was a first in which the cyber cell had secured a conviction where an entire trial was conducted. “Earlier, we did receive a conviction, but the accused involved was a minor and had confessed to his crime. In this case, the accused had not admitted his crime,” Pawar said. This is the first case where a probe was tried by the court making it the first
conviction based on secondary evidence.
The court examined eight witnesses in the case, including panch, experts and Prabhu’s colleague who deposed that the laptop used by the convict was the same laptop the office had provided him for work.
The police seized technical evidence such as IP addresses, laptops and statements from the server used by Prabhu to send the emails. “We had sent the evidence to the forensic science lab to build a case against Prabhu. The reports established that Prabhu had stored and
sent obscene images of men and women and this evidence was also produced in court,” Pawar said.
The officer also said that since the amendments to the IT Act were new and due to technical difficulties and unawareness, the conviction rate had been low.
Pawan Duggal, a cyber law advocate who had secured the first conviction in the country, said the police were ill-equipped to gather “relevant incriminatory cyber evidence”. The lawyer maintained that there had only been seven or eight cyber convictions across the country. “The problem arises due to destruction or tampering of evidence. For instance, police may store hard-disks in cloth and pour hot wax on it to seal them or there are scratches on CDs,” Duggal said.
“Moreover, sections of IT Acts are bailable. Once the accused is set free, he can immediately delete evidence against him/ her,” Duggal added.