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‘Cyber crime tribunal in red tape mesh’

Over two years after the Cyber Regulations Appellate Tribunal (CRAT) — the maiden forum in the country to exclusively try cyber cases — became functional,it recently got a new address and a well-equipped courtroom.

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi |
August 8, 2009 3:11:53 am

Over two years after the Cyber Regulations Appellate Tribunal (CRAT) — the maiden forum in the country to exclusively try cyber cases — became functional,it recently got a new address and a well-equipped courtroom.

Its head,Justice Rajesh Tandon,remains dissatisfied with the “unreasonable” provision relating to the retiring age of the tribunal’s presiding officer,and the procedural delays in appointments.

Created under the Information Technology Act,the presiding officer of a tribunal is required to be either a judge of a High Court or is/has been a member of the Indian Legal Services and holds/has held a Grade I post in that service for at least three years. The term for the presiding officer has been limited to five years from his joining the post or till he attains the age of 65,whichever is earlier,under Section 51 of the Act.

A High Court judge retires at 62; hence he is left only with a three year-term to serve the office,thereby making the five-year clause redundant,Justice Tandon said. Moreover,procedural delays in appointing an officer further eats into the already small tenure,he added.

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“A presiding officer will naturally need some time to get adjusted to the new arena of cyber laws. By the time he gets accustomed to the functioning of the tribunal,his tenure is almost over,” Justice Tandon told The Indian Express.

Criticising the widespread red tapism that causes delays in appointments,Justice Tandon,who earlier served as a judge at Uttarakhand High Court,said: “The Secretary of the IT department received my consent last August,but took more than six months to hand over the letter of appointment. The confirmation came in the last week of February despite my reminders.”

“The retiring age is 67 for a State Consumer Commission Judge,and 70 for a National Consumer Commission Judge. Why should there be discrimination in fixing the age limit for the CRAT’s presiding officer?” Justice Tandon asked.

Regarding the creation of an independent website for the CRAT,Justice Tandon said they will soon start the process. As per the provisions of the IT Act,a complaint relating to a cyber crime would first go to an “adjudicating officer” — a secretary in the IT department. An appeal against his order would then lie with the CRAT.

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