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Adjudicatory Powers under Information Technology Act

7 min read

By Krishna kant choubey

Published on: December 05, 2023 at 17:15 IST

As we can see that there is immense growth in digital technology all over the world , which increases the need to have a  strong legal framework for the proper governance of cyberspace . The power to adjudicate under IT law has been governed under separate authorities such as regulatory authority, appellate tribunal and traditional judicial systems.

The power to adjudicate under IT (Information Technology) law is a crucial aspect of enforcing and regulating activities related to information technology. The authority to adjudicate in this context typically involves the resolution of legal issues, disputes, and violations pertaining to IT-related matters. The IT laws grant certain individuals or bodies the power to make judgments and decisions on issues such as cybercrimes, data breaches, intellectual property infringement, and other offenses related to the use of technology.

Adjudication is a process by which a court resolves an issue between the parties . The process is formalized for resolving the disputes and settling legal claims through the application of IT laws. Adjudication has been derived from the latin word “judicare” which means “judge” It involves a fair and just legal framework which is imposed by the digital cyberspace.

Regulatory authorities are established to play an important role in the adjudicatory powers under IT law such as Controller of Certifying Authorities (CCA) and Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) these bodies ensures safety and security of cyberspace’s.

This article tends to explain the significance of adjudicatory powers for the safety of cyberspace in the digital era.

Controller of Certifying Authorities under Information technology Law

Controller of Certifying Authorities under IT law have been granted to permit and direct the working of Certifying Authorities. The Certifying Authorities does the issuing of digital signature for the clients’ confirmation. Certifying Authorities ensures the authentication of the clients for the safeguards in the cyberspace. The Certificate Authority checks the declaration of the proprietor.

Computer Emergency Response Team in Information technology Act

The Team particularly focuses on the data breach and denial of service-of-attacks in the cyberspace and also provides alerts. It also tries to minimize and provide the security from the cyberspace.

The adjudication process under the IT Act involves the adjudicating officers who have the authority to hear and decide matters related to violations of the Act. Adjudicating officers are appointed by the central government or state government, depending on the jurisdiction.

The adjudicating officers have the power to impose penalties for various offenses under the IT Act. Penalties can be levied for unauthorized access to a computer system, data theft, hacking, and other cyber offenses.

Adjudicating Officer is appointed to determine the contraventions of penalties. The Adjudicating Officer has power to impose penalty and can also award compensation of the damages not exceeding more than five crores and has quasi – judicial authority.

The Role of Adjudicating Officers under the IT Amendment Act, 2008 is delineated in various sections, with Section 46(1A) specifying the extent of their authority. Within the framework of this amended Act, Adjudicating officers possess jurisdiction over claims for injury or damage not exceeding 5 crores. However, if the claims surpass this threshold, the jurisdiction is transferred to a competent or higher court, thereby establishing a clear demarcation.

Section 46(2) introduces an element of discretion into the hands of Adjudicating officers, allowing them the freedom to determine the quantum of compensation. This discretionary power implies a certain level of subjectivity in assessing penalties.

Besides of the offenses described under IT law to provide the compensation for the penalty there are also some of major factors responsible fot the quantum of compensation by an Adjudicating Officer they are as follows –

  • Nature of the default
  • Gaining of unfair advantages
  • Loss suffered by the damages

The Information Technology (qualification and experience of adjudicating officers and manner of holding inquiry) Rules, 2003, further elaborate on the parameters for conducting inquiries, specifying the reliance on documentary and other evidence gathered during investigations.

Expanding the authority of Adjudicating officers, Section 46(5) broadens their scope by conferring additional powers. These include the ability to issue orders for attachment and sale of property, the arrest and detention of the accused, and the appointment of a receiver. This augmentation of authority enhances the enforceability and effectiveness of their orders, contributing to a more robust and comprehensive adjudication process.

Cyber Appellate Tribunal offers a remedy against decisions of ADO.  CAT’s primary role in IT law is to review its decision-making powers, and its role in preserving legal consistency in the digital space. Section 48of Information and Technology Act , 2000talks about the establishment of the Cyber Appellate Tribunal .

Section 58 of Information and Technology Act , 2000 talks about the powers and procedure of the Cyber Appellate tribunal .

CAT possess extensive powers of adjudication over appeals arising from decisions made by adjudicating officers under the Information Technology Act, 2000

  • Aggrieved can appeal in CAT against the order of Adjudicating Officers
  • CAT has the ability to annul, modify and confirm the decisions of lower authoritative bodies.
  • CAT can rectify errors, ceases evidence and provide a nuanced review of legal and factual aspects of the case.
  • CAT also has the power of reviewing the decisions of Adjudicating Officer ensuring that the decision made by the Adjudicating officer has follows and align the principle of natural justice in accordance to the provisions of the IT act, 2000 .
  • As an appellate body Cyber Appellate decisions hold persuasive authority and provides clarity on legal interpretation and according to the guidelines of the IT laws.

The international legal framework of adjudication of matters related to cybercrime are significant to understand.

United States: The adjudication of IT related matter is dispersed across various entities that reflects the federal structure of the legal system. The U.S emphasizes the role of judiciary in shaping   dynamic and evolving jurisprudence in the IT domain. Moreover, the Federal Trade Commission focuses (FTC) on the consumer protection and multifaceted the approach towards IT law adjudication.

European Union: The European Union has collaborative approach towards the adjudication of IT laws. It has separate authoritative body for the protection of data protection and data privacy related matters. The data protection is evident in general data protection regulation that shows an approach to the protection of the consumer’s right in the digital space.

Singapore: Singapore has evolved as regional hub for IT law adjudication as a leading jurisdiction in Asia. The Singapore International Commercial Court focuses on attracting international cases Singapore’s commitment to providing a globally recognized forum for IT law adjudication.

Australia: Australia focuses to create a balance between protection intellectual property rights and fostering innovation with adjudicating disputes arrises rapidly in technological landscapes.

While the IT laws empower adjudicating officers to address a wide range of issues, the framework of information technology is continually evolving. Emerging technologies, novel cyber threats, and changing modes of communication pose challenges that demand a nimble and adaptive approach to adjudication. Regular updates to legislation, ongoing training for adjudicating officers, and collaboration with industry experts become essential to keep pace with the dynamic digital environment.

For the safeguards of the cyberspace there are some certain challenges that we need to overcome which are mentioned below –

  • Compound and Dynamic Nature of Technology As we all know the that technology is emerging everyday with that its complexities are also increasing, because of that the regularity authorities are not able to interpret legal framework properly. The entities need to stay abreast to overcome the challenges of AI and blockchain related disputes resolving.
  • Concern of Privacy: Data breaching and privacy are the major issues of the cyberspace nowadays which adds up the challenge on the regulatory bodies to overcome the layers of this concern by navigating the intricacies of privacy law and data protection regulations for fair and just outcome.
  • Constrained Resources: Resource constrains of both financial and specialized personnel faced by our regulatory bodies which can impact on our dispute resolving relayed to cyber landscape.

By taking future consideration and keeping in mind the evolving nature and dynamics of cyber space we can easily safeguard cyberspace’s security

  • Establishing Technology Courts: With the establishment of Technology court, the IT related disputes can be resolved much quicker and in efficient manner. Because of that the judges will be well versed with the technology which will help in the better adjudication of the IT related disputes.
  • Enhanced cyber–Security Measure: We need to update our security protocols, encryption standards for the continuous monitoring the risk of cyber threat. Investing in cyber security infrastructure will lead to the fair and just adjudication of IT related disputes.
  • Public Awareness: Public awareness is a crucial factor for reducing or monitoring the risk of cyber security. The well people are aware of the frauds the minimized risk of cyber security will be there.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the power to adjudicate under IT law in India is a critical component in ensuring the effective implementation and enforcement of regulations in the rapidly evolving digital landscape. Adjudicating officers play a pivotal role in resolving disputes, imposing penalties, and upholding the principles of justice in the realm of information technology. As technology continues to advance, the legal framework and the role of adjudication will require continuous refinement to meet the ever-changing challenges of the digital era.

Edited By Bharti Verma, Associate Editor at Law Insider