BY | March 3, 2013

New Delhi, (IANS) The Supreme Court Friday issued notice to the central and Maharashtra governments on a PIL seeking a regulatory framework of rules, regulations and guidelines for effective investigation of cyber crimes without stepping on the fundamental rights of citizens.

A bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir, Justice Anil R. Dave and Justice Vikramajit Sen issued notice after counsel Abhay Nevagi urged the court to direct the government undertake awareness campaign regarding various forms of cyber crime sought to be criminalized by the IT Act or any other penal law used to tackle cyber crime.

Nevagi was assisted by another counsel, Krishan Kumar.

The court tagged the PIL with an earlier PIL petition by Shreya Singhal that had challenged the constitutional validity of Section 66A of the IT Act that provides for proceeding against people posting annoying and inconvenient comments on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter and other electronic mediums.

Petitioner Dilipkumar Tulsidas Shah has sought directions to the two governments to “carry out proper and widespread awareness campaigns particularly for investigating agencies, intermediaries such as internet service providers and the judiciary, regarding the various forms of cyber crime sought to be criminalized by the IT Act or any other penal law used to tackle cyber crime”.

Shah, the managing director of Pune-based company engaged in the manufacturing of machinery, was arrested April 19, 2011, for an alleged cyber crime which he claims he had not committed.

The PIL has urged the court that so long as the government does not put in place a regulatory framework to deal with cyber crimes, it should issue “guidelines to be followed by the investigating agencies and the judiciary in handling cyber crime cases, so that the fundamental rights of citizens can be protected from needless abuse by investigating agencies and intermediaries”.

The PIL said that the Information Technology Act has provided that any police officer of the rank of sub-inspector can investigate cyber offences, but there are no criteria for training or knowledge for such officers in order to properly equip them to handle cyber crime.

In the absence of proper procedures for investigation and safeguards, citizens are even more vulnerable to police harassment. There is also no uniformity in cyber security control and enforcement practices, the PIL pointed out.

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