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Digitisation worry: Cyber Appellate Tribunal, which looks into cyber crime, has been headless for five years

The appointment of members has been going on as usual but due to the lack of a chairperson, no bench is able to assemble or hear a case.

Written by Kanishka Singh | New Delhi | Updated: December 14, 2016 5:02:29 pm
Cyber attacks, Cyber safety, conventional attacks, Pune cyber attacks, Pune, 26/11, 26/11 mumbai terror attacks, india news The CyAT has spent over ₹27 crore in salaries during the same period but without carrying out its primary function, CAG said.

The chairman’s position for the Ministry of Communication and Information and Technology’s Cyber Appellate Tribunal (CyAT) has been lying vacant since July 2011. The appointment of members has been going on as usual but due to the lack of a chairperson, no bench is able to assemble or hear a case. Pending cases are being dragged on and no new cases are being heard. The CyAT is the go-to body if one is a victim of cyber crime or online fraud.

According to a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India released on November 22, 2016, the CyAT has spent over ₹27 crore in salaries during the same period but without carrying out its primary function.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar, member of Rajya Sabha and former president of FICCI, had raised the matter in Parliament this August. He had asked Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Law & Justice and Minister Communication and Information Technology why the position of CyAT chairperson was lying vacant.

In response, Ravi Shankar Prasad had replied to Chandrasekhar on October 28 that the appointment process was advertised on three occasions, but couldn’t be completed because of reasons beyond their control.

The CAG rapped the ministry in its report saying, “CyAT has been lying defunct for about five years and not carrying out its primary function of forming benches and listing appeals/cases for hearing to pass the judgement.”

The government’s push to cashless economy brings with itself added concerns for online financial security and security for data theft and cyber fraud. Speaking on the matter, Rajeev Chandrasekhar told Indianexpress.com: “I am deeply concerned. The country and people are rapidly transforming and digitising in even critical areas like payments and financial transactions. You expect that the number of disputes and the number of problems between a consumer and between the platforms like apps, banks and other intermediaries that are in the digital ecosystem to go up.”

“The disputes settlement authority is not in place. I worry that the urgency that we are experiencing in transforming consumer behaviour is not matched by the urgency to put into place several of these building block requirements including legislation, infrastructure security robustness, even (appointment of) CyAT. These are all important building blocks that will make this exercise successful.”

The CyAT was formed in 2006 under the IT ministry under Section 48 (1) of the Information Technology Act, 2000. It was supposed to function as a specialised body that would redress cyber fraud cases. It was given the same powers that are vested in a civil judicial court. The appointment of chairperson and members is supposed to be done by the Centre after consulting with the Chief Justice of India.

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