Legal tech in virtual hearing with regards to cyber crime

Usage of technology and software to the arena of law suggests the literal meaning of legal technology. Legal technology along with digitalization has gained a great recognition in the modern era that give rise to improvement in artificial intelligence in legal industry.  It opens the door for law firms to provide innovative polices of legal service throughout India in ease of doing business too. Legal tech also creates the opportunity to the smaller firms and sole practitioners to access research tools for betterment of efficiency for progressive India. By the outbreak of pandemic of Corona Virus, the world has adapted new methods for accomplishment of various economic activities in legal as well as corporate world.

Today, legal industry incredibly changed and traditional methods of hearing have transformed into virtual hearing. The transformation acknowledges about the reluctances of Indians to technology and digitalisation. Though the demonetization stepped to cashless economy, it gives the idea of interference of technology in day to day life. The conference and seminar get transformed into video conferencing and webinars. People got acquainted by the Working from home, meetings via zoom, WebEx or skype. The lifestyle of people got digitalized, everyone has started adapting the technology to their respective fields which has a negative impact on the domain of cyber-crime. This article is going to enlighten about the technology in the arena of law and cyber-crime as the challenges faced with regards to the virtual platform. It will also acknowledge the existing penal laws and provisions for penal laws to secured the integrity and privacy of citizen.

In India the legal system is being empowered by technology thorough digitization which create the offenders to more free to create violence in the web. Cyber-crime is the wrongful act aims to any networked device or any website to release personal information or hacked by hackers who wants to make money by this crime. It can be done by any individual or organisation. It not only includes hacking but also it adds to release confidential data at any social media channels. By connecting into an unsecured Wi-Fi network can also access the confidential data of the device.

On 1st June 2020, the Delhi high court notified and focused on the Video conferencing rules 2020. The guidelines were openly published in their official website. It allows to record the statements of witness, victim or the wrongdoer. To avoid the unethical practices, they have adapted the usage of well-designed video conferencing software. It gives the opportunity to both participants and viewers to attend the virtual session according to the rule 14 and 16 respectively. The Hon’ble court also adds to avoid usage of zoom application that may allow criminals to access the sensitive facts. By the rule of 12.2 it has clarified the usage of an authentic software held by the IT department of the court.

During the virtual hearing a teenage hacker along with two of his companion hacked 130 high profile twitter account, played loud music and pornographic content during the hearing. This forced the judge to shut the conference. As the hearing was conducted through Zoom meet application, Delhi high court IT department uses an authentic software to avoid cyber-crime.

In 2013, India finds its first cyber-crime, filed by Sony India Private Ltd. That complaint was with regards to the online purchase with its created website, against the accused named Arif Azim. Our penal laws do not define the cyber-crime. But there are provisions for the information act, 2000 and Indian penal code,1860 to punish the wrong doer. In the above mentioned case, the accused was convicted under section 418, 419 and 420 of IPC, 1860.

Today, cyber-crime is considered as a serious offence. Most of things of the day to day life became digitalized which shows the reluctance of Indians to technology. Also it has its negative impact in the form of cyber-crime. Section 43 and 66 of IT Act penalise the wrongdoer for hacking into a device based network and data theft. It charges 5 lakhs rupees as fine or 3 years of imprisonment or both. By this offence, the accused can also be charged under section 378 of IPC relating to theft of movable property which can also be applied to data theft.

Section 66B of the IT Act has a provision for receiving stolen property dishonestly. This can charge the accused for 1 lakhs rupees as fine or imprisonment up to 3 years or both. IPC section 411 has also prescribed the punishment for dishonestly receiving stolen property as imprisonment up to 3 years or with fine or both.  Along with those sections, there are also provisions for cheating by personation in section 66C of IT Act and section 419 of IPC. The sections 463,465 and 468 of IPC can also be used in case of forgery for purpose of cheating. The sections 67, 67A, 67B of IT Act with respect to sections 292 and 294 of IPC prescribed punishment for obscenity[1]. To secure the unity, integrity and sovereignty IT Act has a provision for cyber terrorism in section 66F. Whoever commits the offence shall be punished with imprisonment that may extend to imprisonment for life.

By implementing digital and physical security methods we can decline the rate of cyber-crime in India. The registered cyber-crime has increased 121% since 2016. Opus 2 gives a secured cloud based platform for virtual hearing to empower legal technology.  During the hearing procedure, the moderator can limit the screen sharing and disable the file transfer unless its required. They should maintain the password-protect video conferencing where the participants need to join through the specific password.  By this precaution, anyone attempts to join the meet placed in the waiting room and cannot enter the conference without the host’s permission.

Our judiciary along with legal tech can be considered as a foundation to the new era and a long excursion towards innovation, which must be done in a responsible way with a positive mind-set. So the hurdles to this path can be avoidable by the secured networking along with precautionary measures.  For efficient vital growth on both micro and macro scale lines, the role of legal technology is important in today’s technology reliant world. We can conclude that both legal professionals and legal technology are symbiotically related to each other for a bright future, so legislature need to be more proficient in implementing the punishments on wrong doers with the help of Artificial Intelligence. Moreover, it creates the opportunity for Indian judiciary during this COVID-19 pandemic to deliver justice within a short period of time. Where we are more concerned for social distancing during this outbreak, via online mode, delivery of justice to the innocent is happening by maintaining all the guidelines. By using artificial intelligence, the pending cases are also being resolved concerning cyber security.

To aum up with everything it can be stated so far that the principle of open justice satisfied by the quick delivery of justice to the innocents. Indian judiciary has tried their level best to secure natural justice and via virtual hearing the essence of justice, equity and good conscience is also fulfilled. Our judiciary along with legal tech can be considered as a foundation to the new era and a long excursion towards innovation, which must be done in a responsible way with a positive mind-set.

[1] Vinod Jospeh & Deeya Ray, India: Cyber Crimes Under The IPC And IT Act – An Uneasy Co-Existence, Mondaq (10 February 2020),–an-uneasy-co-existence.

Authors- Bijayini Namrata Patel & Ritwik Ra (KIIT School of Law, KIIT deemed to be university, Bhubaneswar)

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