Information technology Act 2000 (ITA 2000) had an ambitious thought of expediting justice in respect of civil disputes arising out of any contravention of ITA 2000. Accordingly it gave powers to Adjudicators to adjudicate on any claim (Upto Rs 5 crores as per ITA 2008 amendment). It also suggested that the adjudication would be an enquiry process and should ideally be completed within a period of 4 months.
The process of Adjudication however remained on paper until Mr PWC Davidar acting as the adjudicator in Tamil Nadu (by virtue of his position as the IT Secretary) delivered his landmark judgement in the case of S.Umashankar Vs ICICI Bank. Subsequently more cases were decided by him and more in Mumbai. However, most of these cases ended up in appeals in Cyber Appelate Tribunal (CyAT) in Delhi. CyAT functioned upto June 30 2011 and did not give any relevant judgement apart from dismissing some wrongly referred cases. The Umashankar Vs ICICI Bank appeal filed by ICICI Bank had been tried and arguments completed, written arguments filed by the time the then Chairperson Mr Rajesh Tandon attained superannuation on June 30 2011. The judgement was due on 3rd of July but due to the tenure of Mr Rajesh Tandon not being extended nor a new Chairperson appointed, all matters remained in suspended animation.
In the 2017 budget, CyAT was merged with TDSAT but TDSAT had not started hearing any of the pending cases.
Now it appears that the files have started moving in TDSAT and from the beginning of this month, TDSAT has started sending notices regarding pending cases for preliminary listing.
Let’s hope that the litigants who are waiting for a long time now will at last see justice.
During the last 7 years the scenario in Cyber Crimes in India has changed and this is likely to have its impact on the pending cases. We hope that TDSAT will interpret the provisions of ITA 2000/8 which were designed to make the judicial process simple in a manner that upholds the intention of those who framed ITA 2000/8.
There are certain issues that still needs to be sorted out to enable TDSAT to fulfill its expected role.
Naavi was representing several cyber crime victims in the CyAT at the time it closed its doors. Now at least one of those victims is no longer alive to continue the fight. Everybody else including Naavi have grown older by 7 long years before the files are being re-opened. All of us have seen the ugly side of how delays makes delivery of justice irrelevant. During this delay the Banks which enjoyed the fruits of the crime were the beneficiaries and the Cyber Crime victims who had lost their hard earned savings were suffering silently.
It would be good if TDSAT understands the pain behind most of these cyber crime victims who have lost much of their zeal in this intervening days.
But we cannot lose hope and I am reminded of the Tolstoy’s story “God sees the Truth but Waits”. I therefore look forward to TDSAT ensuring that Justice and Truth prevails even if delayed by 7 years.