About Cyber Appellate Tribunal - By Rahul swarnkar
Cyber Appellate Tribunal has been established under the Information Technology Act under the aegis of Controller of Certifying Authorities (C.C.A.)
The first and the only Cyber Appellate Tribunal in the country has been established by the Central Government in accordance with the provisions contained under Section 48(1) of the Information Technology Act, 2000.
The Central Government shall also specify, in the notification referred to in sub-section (1), the matters and places in relation to which the Cyber Appellate Tribunal may exercise jurisdiction.
The Cyber Appellate Tribunal has, for the purposes of discharging its functions under the I.T.
Act, the same powers as are vested in a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. However, the procedure laid down by the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 applies but at the same time the Tribunal is guided by the principles of natural justice.
Initially the Tribunal consisted of only one person who was referred to as the Presiding Officer who was to be appointed by way of notification by the Central Government. Thereafter the Act was amended in the year 2008 by which section 49 which provides for the composition of the Cyber Appellate Tribunal has been changed. As per the amended section the Tribunal shall consist of a Chairperson and such number of other Members as the Central Government may by notification in the Official Gazette appoint. The selection of the Chairperson and Members of the Tribunal is made by the Central Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of India. The Presiding Officer of the Tribunal is now known as the Chairperson.
Any person aggrieved by an order made by the Controller or by an Adjudicating Officer appointed under the Information Technology Act, 2000 can prefer an appeal before the Tribunal within 45 days of receiving a copy of the order of the Controller or the Adjudicating Officer.
The Central Government may by notification in the Official Gazette appoint a Controller of Certifying Authorities, and also Deputy and Assistant Controllers whose qualifications, experience and terms and conditions of service may be prescribed by the Government, for discharging the functions provided under section 18 of The Act. The Act empowers the Central Government to appoint an officer not below the rank of a Director to the Government of India or an equivalent officer of a State Government to be an adjudicating officer to hold an enquiry as to whether any person has contravened any provisions of the Act or any rule, regulation or direction or order made there under which renders him liable to pay penalty or compensation. The adjudicating officer appointed under the Act can exercise jurisdiction to adjudicate matters in which the claim for injury or damages does not exceed rupees 5 crore. In respect of claim for injury or damage exceeding rupees five crores, the jurisdiction shall vest with the competent court.
Establishment of Cyber Appellate Tribunal
1. The Central Government notifies and establishes appellate tribunals called Cyber Regulations Appellate Tribunal.
2. The Central Government also specifies in the notification all the matters and places which fall under the jurisdiction of the Tribunal.
Composition of Cyber Appellate Tribunal
• A Cyber Appellate Tribunal shall consist of one person only (hereinafter referred to as the Presiding Officer of the Cyber Appellate Tribunal) to be appointed, by notification, by the Central Government.
• A person shall not be qualified for appointment as the Presiding Officer of a Cyber
Appellate Tribunal unless he- is, or has been, or is qualified to be, a Judge of a High Court, or, is or has been a member of the Indian Legal Service and is holding or has held a post in Grade I of that Service for at least three years.
• No order of the Central Government appointing any person as the Presiding Officer of a Cyber Appellate Tribunal shall be called in question in any manner and no act or proceeding before a Cyber Appellate Tribunal shall be called in question in any manner on the ground merely of any defect in the constitution of a Cyber Appellate Tribunal.
Staff of the Cyber Appellate Tribunal
(1) The Central Government shall provide the Cyber Appellate Tribunal with such officer and employees as that Government may think fit.
(2) The officers and employees of the Cyber Appellate Tribunal shall discharge their functions under general superintendence of the Presiding Officer.
(3) The salaries, allowances and other conditions of service of the officers and employees of the Cyber Appellate Tribunal shall be such as may be prescribed by the Central Government.
Term of Office
Section 51 (1) provides a five-year term for the Chairperson or Member of the Cyber Appellate Tribunal. The term states from the date on which he enters upon his office. It will last for five years or until he attains the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.
Resignation and Removal
1. The Presiding Officer can resign from his office after submitting a notice in writing to the Central Government, provided:
he holds office until the expiry of three months from the date the Central Government receives such notice (unless the Government permits him to relinquish his office sooner), Or
he holds office till the appointment of a successor, Or
until the expiry of his office; whichever is earlier.
2. In case of proven misbehaviour or incapacity, the Central Government can pass an order to remove the Presiding Officer of the Cyber Appellate Tribunal. However, this is only after the Judge of the Supreme Court conducts an inquiry where the Presiding Officer is aware of the charges against him and has a reasonable opportunity to defend himself.
3. The Central Government can regulate the procedure for investigation of misbehaviour or incapacity of the Presiding Officer.
Appeal to Cyber Appellate Tribunal
1. Subject to the provisions of sub-section (2), a person not satisfied with the Controller or Adjudicating Officer’s order can appeal to the Cyber Appellate Tribunal having jurisdiction in the matter.
2. No appeal shall lie to the Cyber Appellate Tribunal from an order made by an adjudicating officer with the consent of the parties.
3. The person filing the appeal must do so within 25 days from the date of receipt of the order from the Controller or Adjudicating Officer. Further, he must accompany the appeal with the prescribed fees. However, if the Tribunal is satisfied with the reasons behind the delay of filing the appeal, then it may entertain it even after the expiry of 25 days.
4. On receiving an appeal under sub-section (1), the Tribunal gives an opportunity to all the parties to the appeal to state their points, before passing the order.
5. The Cyber Appellate Tribunal sends a copy of every order made to all the parties to the appeal and the concerned Controller or adjudicating officer.
6. The Tribunal tries to expeditiously deal with the appeals received under sub-section (1). It also tries to dispose of the appeal finally within six months of receiving it.
Appeal to High Court
Any person aggrieved by any decision or order of the Cyber Appellate Tribunal may file an appeal to the High Court within sixty days from the date of communication of the decision or order of the Cyber Appellate Tribunal to him on any question of fact or law arising out of such order Provided that the High Court may, if it is satisfied that the appellant was prevented by sufficient cause from filing the appeal within the said period, allow it to be filed within a further period not exceeding sixty days.
Procedure and powers of cyber appellate tribunal
The Code of Civil Procedure 1908 is an Act to consolidate and amend the laws relating to the procedure of the Courts of Civil Judicature. The objective of the section 58 is that the Tribunal is not bound by the procedure laid down by the Code of Civil Procedure 1908 and instead it shall be guided by the principles of natural justice. The principles of natural justice revolve around the premise that the authority should hear the person concerned before passing any decision, direction or order against him.
In Union of India v. T. R. Verma, it said that it is established law that the tribunals should follow law of natural justice requires that a party should have opportunity of adducing all relevant evidence on which he relies. Evidence should be taken in the presence of the parties and the opportunity to cross examination be given.
Further the Cyber Appellant Tribunal shall have powers to regulate its own procedure including the place at which it shall have its sittings. It is an established law that in the absence of any procedure laid down, the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure should be followed.
The Cyber Appellate Court shall have the powers of :
1. Summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person and examining him on oath,
2. Requiring the discovery and production of documents or other electronic records,
3. Receiving evidence on affidavits,
4. Issuing commissions for the examination of witness or documents,
5. Reviewing its decisions,
6. Dismissing an application for default or deciding it ex parte,
7. Any other matter, which may be prescribed.
Recovery of Penalty
A penalty imposed under this Act, if it is not paid, shall be recovered as an arrear of land revenue and the licensee or the Digital Signature Certificate, as the case may be, shall be suspended till the penalty is paid .
Cyber world is entirely different from the real existing world but it has the capacity to engage crimes that happen in the real world. The Cyber Appellant Tribunal so established to stop cyber crimes and punish those who are part of it. The efficacy of the Cyber Appellant Tribunal can be improved by creating necessary awareness in the public & the authorities and with efforts to deploy adequate manpower. It is important to enhance technological ability to deal with any situation that will come across. It is necessary to maintain integrity, confidentiality and authentication of communication channels and processes. For certain types of crimes there lies a requirement of certain kinds of courts for faster decision. Following the procedure of natural justice and not C.P.C, decision is expected faster.
Guru Ghasidas Central University, Bilaspur