High Court (India)

February 26, 2019

Directives issued by Calcutta HC for equipping Police to tackle Cyber Crimes

Calcutta HC

In light of the ongoing rise in cyber-crime, and the equilateral unpreparedness of the police force to deal with such crimes, it he Calcutta HC issued directives ensuring that the investigation of crimes involving electronic evidence is conducted in a fair, impartial and effective manner. A Division Bench of Calcutta HC comprising Justices Joymalya Bagchi and Manojit Mandal whilst considering a bail application filed by a man who had allegedly posted objectional pictures of his wife on the social media platform and further circulated them widely. A FIR was registered stating all the accusations, but there was no mention that the offences charged under S. 66E& 67A of the Information Technology Act had not been added. As a result, the Assistant Sub-Inspector of Police was in violation of the provision of S. 78 of the Information Technology Act. The concerned Inspector-in-charge was directed to rectify the mistake in omitting to add offences under the said Act to the FIR and entrust the investigation to an officer not below the rank of Inspector. The Calcutta High Court while taking this concern on record that there is a gross lack of awareness as well as unpreparedness in the police force to deal with such crimes. It felt that there is a ‘crying need’ to train and familiarise members of the police force in the matter of collection, reception, storage, analysis and production of electronic evidence. Under these circumstances, the High court felt the inclination to issue the following directives:

“a) Director General of Police, West Bengal shall ensure proper training of members of the police force in reception, preservation and analysis of electronic evidence in police training schools on a regular basis. At least one officer of the rank of Inspector from each police station shall attend such training course and shall be certified by the police training college as an officer who is specialized in the matter of dealing in electronic evidence;

b) Investigation of crimes involving offences under the Information Technology Act and offences where electronic evidence plays a pre-dominant part shall be conducted by the officer/officers who has/have received specialised training in reception, preservation, analysis and protection of electronic evidence, as aforesaid, in consultation with specialised agencies;

c) Every district shall have a special cyber cell comprising officers who have specialized knowledge in the matter of dealing with electronic evidence and such special cells shall render necessary assistance to the local police stations whenever such assistance is sought for in the matter of investigation of cyber offences and/or offences involving electronic evidence;

d) Director General of Police, West Bengal in consultation with experts shall submit a standard operating procedure with regard to the preservation, collection, analysis and producing of electronic evidence in criminal cases before this court on the next date of hearing. He shall also submit report with regard to steps taken with regard to implementation of directions nos. (a), (b) & (c) of this order.

e) Forensic analysis of electronic evidence and/or devices are of the utmost importance in order to ensure the authenticity and reliability of such evidence. Apprehension with regard to the authenticity of electronic evidence creates a hurdle in relying on such evidence when produced before law courts. It is therefore, necessary that specialised forensic units be set up in the State so as to facilitate examination and/or analysis of electronic evidence.

On issuing these directives, the matter is adjourned further on 11th March 2019.

Subhendu Nath v. State of West Bengal, CRM No. 650 of 2019, Calcutta HC, Justices Manojit Mandal and Joymalya Bagchi)

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