Time for law to get mobile

Call records are playing a crucial role in criminal investigations

pratap

Pratap Vikram Singh | February 2, 2012




Mobile phones are the digital identity of people and with the rapidly increasing numbers of mobile phone users the judicial fraternity needs to have a better understanding of the legal provisions related with use of mobile phones, Justice Altamas Kabir of the supreme court said.
 
Speaking on the occasion of the release of a book, titled ‘Mobile Law’, by Pawan Duggal, senior advocate, supreme court, in Wednesday, he called on training and education of the judges from top to bottom on various dimensions of use of cell phones, including the smart phones. 

Emphasising greater acceptance of internet and mobile call data in the criminal prosecution process, he said, “With amendments in the Indian evidence act and penal code, the data obtained from internet, if produced in the court will be considered admissible.” He stated that it was now possible to retrieve information about the list of calls a person has made, which helps in indicating where and when the person was at the time of the conversation.

Drawing similarities between the cyber offences and offences under IPC, he said, “You can find commonality in two laws. In the actual world, when you are walking into someone’s house, you are trespassing. In the virtual world, when you are taking over the identity of another person, you are doing the same.”

Justice AK Sikri, acting chief justice of Delhi high court, said that the call records were playing a crucial role in criminal investigations and a lot of cases were being solved with the help of the mobile call details. He also said through mobile phones, agencies could trace the culprits and suspects and is proving a helping tool into the hands of investigating and prosecuting agencies.
 
Duggal said that though the phones had become smarter, the laws had not kept pace with the time. He said, “The regulating provisions related to usage of mobile phones are not there in the laws. Amendments in the Information Technology Act, 2000, in 2008 added a few provisions, and subsequently the act now governs different types of mobile and communication devices. But there are no specific provisions to deal with new challenges related with mobile crimes, social media and abuse and individual privacy.”

There was a need for an immediate amendment so that the common user might be safe and secure from the mobile-related crimes, he noted.

Elaborating the legal repercussions on misuse of cell phones, he said, “If you are giving a threat to a person on cell phone, you could be sentenced for three years and penalised with an amount of Rs 1 lakh. It is a bailable offence. But if you are giving a cyber threat, then you may face severe punishment, facing imprisonment of up to of ten years, besides financial penalisation.”
 
Nevertheless, the existing law lacks stringent and deterrent provisions. “Training of the law enforcement agencies has been very slow. That is the reason why some cyber offenders get away so easily. So until we strengthen our law with deterrent provisions, and the agencies dealing with such issues, we will continue to face the same challenges,” he said. 
 
Suggesting some tips to the mobile phone users, he said, “The phone users can avoid a lot of problems by not handing over their phones to other people, always keeping it locked, refraining from saving critical personal and banking information in the phone and keeping the data backup.” 
 
The book, ‘Mobile Law’ (published by Universal Law Publishing), has explored various hitherto unexplored areas of jurisprudence around the use of mobiles, smart phones, personal digital assistants and all other kinds of communication devices, which are used to communicate in audio, video, image or text of any kind. The book primarily discusses about the newly emerging discipline of mobile law.

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