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This article is written by Shreya Patel, pursuing B.A.LL.B (Hons) from Maharaja Sayajirao University, Vadodara. The article has been edited by Khushi Sharma (Trainee Associate, Blog iPleaders).

Introduction

Computers, the Internet, and ICT, or e-revolution, have transformed people’s lives in the twenty-first century. E-communication has mostly replaced paper-based communication in recent years. As a result, new terms like the cyber world, e-transaction, e-banking, e-return, and e-contracts have emerged. Aside from the good aspects of the e-revolution, there is also a bad aspect of computers, namely, the internet and ICT in the hands of criminals, which has turned into a weapon of crime. As a result, a new panel of members, known as Cyber Law, Cyber Space Law, Information Technology Law, or Internet Law, was formed to address the issues of cybercrime in cyberspace.

Cyber legislation and the Information Technology Act of 2000, as amended in 2008, are being developed in India to combat computer crimes. The Information Technology Act of 2000 is a law that establishes legal recognition for transactions carried out via Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) and other forms of electronic communication. It is India’s principal legislation governing cybercrime and electronic trade (e-Commerce). Electronic data interchange or electronic filing of the information is referred to as e-Commerce.

The Information Technology Act of 2000, which took effect on October 17, 2000, was enacted to provide legal recognition for transactions carried out through electronic data interchange and other forms of electronic communication, also known as “electronic commerce,” involve the use of alternatives to paper-based methods of communication and information storage, to make electronic filing of documents with government agencies easier, and to amend the Information Technology Act of 2000. 

The Internet network has vastly grown over vast geographic distances, allowing for fast communication between even the most remote parts of the globe. Various global institutions see the need for rules to regulate this new hemisphere as human activities in this limitless new universe continues to expand. The Information Technology (IT) Act 2000 was established in India to keep up with the continuous flux. The IT Act was conceived and formed according to the Model Law of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL).

The Cyber Appellant Tribunal was created under the Information Act of 2000. The tribunal solely has appellant jurisdiction, as its name implies. As a result, it has the ability to exercise its appellant jurisdiction over a judgment or order made by the Controller of Certifying Authorities or the adjudicating official, both on the facts and in law. In other words, it has the legal authority to investigate the decision or order’s accuracy, legality, and propriety. The Central Government has created the country’s first and only Cyber Appellate Tribunal in line with the terms of Section 48(1) of the Information Technology Act, 2000.

Establishment of the Tribunal (Section 48)

This Section explains how the Cyber Appellant Tribunal will be established. The central government will issue a notification establishing one or more appellant tribunals. The Central Government also lists all of the subjects and locations that come under the Tribunal’s jurisdiction in the announcement.

Composition (Section 49)

This Section explains that the Presiding Officer of the Cyber Appellate Tribunal, who will be nominated by the Central Government, will be the sole member of the Cyber Appellate Tribunal. The appellant tribunal has been transformed into a multi-member body. The Tribunal will henceforth be composed of a Chairperson and as many additional members as the Central Government may designate by publication in the Official Gazette. The Central Government, in collaboration with the Chief Justice of India, selects the Chairperson and Members of the Tribunal. The Tribunal’s Presiding Officer is now known as the Chairperson.

Qualifications for appointment (Section 50)

Section – A person cannot be appointed as the Presiding Officer of a Cyber Appellate Tribunal unless he or she has the following qualifications:

(a) Is, or has been, or is qualified to be, a Judge of a High Court; or

(b) Is or was a member of the Indian Legal Service, and now holds or has held a Grade I position in that service for at least three years.

The Term of Office (Section 51)

Section – The Presiding Officer of a Cyber Appellate Tribunal serves for five years from the date of appointment or until he reaches the age of 65, whichever comes first.

Resignation and removal (Section 54)

Section – The chairperson or a member of the cyber appellant tribunal might resign by writing to the federal government and informing them of their decision. Provided, however, that the Presiding Officer shall continue to hold office until the expiration of three months from the date of receipt of such notice, or until a person duly appointed as his successor enters upon his office, or until the expiration of his term of office, whichever comes first unless he is permitted by the Central Government to relinquish his office sooner.

The Central Government has the authority to dismiss the Presiding Officer of the Cyber Appellate Tribunal if there is evidence of misbehaviour or inability. However, only after a Supreme Court Judge has conducted an investigation and the Presiding Officer has been informed of the accusations against him and has had a sufficient opportunity to defend himself. The method for investigating misbehaviour or incompetence of the Presiding Officer might be regulated by the Central Government.

Finality of Orders (Section 55)

Section 55 of the Information Technology Act of 2000 prohibits judicial review of two matters: an order of the Central Government designating any individual as the Chairperson of the CAT, and any procedure before a CAT based solely on a flaw in the CAT’s constitution. This provision assures the smooth and uninterrupted operation of the Tribunal by making the decision creating the CAT definitive and prohibiting judicial review of any Tribunal proceedings based on a flaw in the Tribunal’s constitution.

Saff of the Cyber Appellant Tribunal (Section 56)

Section – All the staff, employees and other officers are provided by the central government, as it will think fit. All the officers and employees will work under the superintendence of the chairperson. The central government will prescribe the salaries, allowances and all other conditions of services of the employees and officers.

Appeal to Cyber Appellant Tribunal (Section 57)

Section – If a person is dissatisfied with the Controller’s or Adjudicating Officer’s decision, he or she may file a complaint with the Cyber Appellate Tribunal, which has jurisdiction over the case. An order rendered by an adjudicating official with the permission of the parties, however, is not subject to appeal to the Cyber Appellate Tribunal. The individual must file, along with the specified fees, within 25 days after receiving the order from the Controller or Adjudicating Officer. If the Tribunal is satisfied with the grounds for the delay in submitting the appeal, it may hear it even after the 25-day period has passed.

The Cyber Appellant Tribunal shall transmit a copy of every order to all parties to the appeal as well as the appropriate Controller or adjudicating official. The tribunal will also make every effort to resolve the appeal within six months of receiving it.

In Chappan v/s Moidin Kutti, It was claimed that the presence of a superior and interior court relationship, as well as the capacity of the former to review two judgments of the latter, are two requirements for appellant jurisdiction. 

Power and procedure of the Cyber Appellant Tribunal (Section 58)

The Cyber Appellate Tribunal’s method and powers are laid forth in Section 58 of the Information Technology Act, 2000

Sub-clause (1) Section 58 states that the Cyber Appellate Tribunal is not bound by the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, but rather by the principles of natural justice and that the Cyber Appellate Tribunal, subject to the other provisions of this Act and any rules, has the authority to regulate its own procedure, including the location of its hearings.

Clause (2) Section 58 stipulates that, for the purposes of executing its responsibilities under this Act, the Cyber Appellate Tribunal shall have the same powers as a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, while trying an action, in respect of the following matters:

 (a) Summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person and examining him on oath;

(b) Requiring the discovery and production of documents or other electronic records;

(c) Receiving evidence on affidavits;

(d) Issuing commissions for the examination of witnesses or documents;

(e) Reviewing its decisions;

(f) Dismissing an application for default or deciding it ex parte;

(g) Any other matter which may be prescribed.

Clause (3) Section 58 states that any proceeding before the Cyber Appellate Tribunal is deemed to be a judicial proceeding for the purposes of Sections 193 and 228 of the Indian Penal Code, and the Cyber Appellate Tribunal is deemed to be a civil court for the purposes of Section 195 and Chapter XXVI of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

In Union of India v. T. R. Verma, It is claimed that it is established law that courts must observe the law of natural justice, which states that a party must be given the chance to present any relevant evidence on which he relies. Evidence should be taken in the presence of the parties, and cross-questioning should be allowed.

Right to Legal Representation (Section 59)

Section – The appellant has the option of appearing in person or appointing one or more legal representatives to represent him before the tribunal. 

Limitation (Section 60)

The limitations restrictions of the Limitation Act of 1963 apply to Tribunal appeals.

Civil Court not to have jurisdiction (Section 61)

Section – No civil court can consider a suit or action in that area if the IT Act of 2000 authorizes the adjudicating officer or the Cyber Appellate Tribunal to deal with particular concerns. Furthermore, no court can issue an injunction against any conduct taken by a person in the exercise of any authority conferred by the Act.

Appeal to the High Court (Section 62)

Section – A person aggrieved by the CAT’s decision or order may submit an appeal to the HC within sixty days of the date of notification of the Tribunal’s decision or order to him on any point of fact or law arising out of such order, according to Section 62 of the IT Act. The HC may if satisfied that the appellant was prevented from submitting the appeal within the specified term by sufficient cause, allow it to be submitted within an additional period of not more than sixty days.

Recovery of Penalty (Section 64)

If a penalty issued under this Act is not paid, it is collected as land revenue arrears. Furthermore, until the penalty is paid, the license or digital signature certificate is suspended.

Conclusion 

The purpose of enacting the I.T. Act was straightforward. The government wanted to offer and support electronic, digital transactions while also safeguarding against all types of cybercrime. Because of the quantity of traffic on the internet and the amount of money individuals transact through online means, it was critical to strengthen the cyber world. Although the cyber world is vastly different from the actual world, it has the capability to participate in crimes that occur in the real world. The Cyber Appellant Tribunal was created to combat cybercrime and punish individuals involved. The effectiveness of the Cyber Appellant Tribunal may be improved by increasing public and government knowledge, as well as attempts to deploy enough staff. It is critical to improving technical capability in order to deal with any circumstance that may arise. Integrity, secrecy, and authenticity of communication routes and procedures are required.

Certain sorts of offenses necessitate the use of tribunals that can make decisions more quickly. The judgment is likely to be made quickly if it follows the natural justice system rather than the C.P.C. In M/s. Gujarat Petrosynthese Ltd. and Mr. Rajendra Prasad Yadav v. Union of India it sought for a direction to the Respondent to designate a Chairperson to the Cyber Appellate Tribunal (CAT) in order to guarantee that the tribunal’s hearings were convened on a regular basis. In court, it was said that the department would take all necessary steps to fill the position of chairman within the time limit of six months, and that attempts would be made to appoint the chairperson even before the time limit expired, in the public interest. On these grounds, the petition was dismissed. Despite the above judgment, no appointment to the cyber appellate tribunal has been made as of yet, and it has been inactive since 2011.

References 

The Information Technology Act, 2000 – Bare Act

Information Technology Law and Practice by Vakul Sharma


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