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HindustanTimes Mon,21 Apr 2014

Justice delayed: Forensic labs take months to decode evidence

Mohamed Thaver, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, April 08, 2013
First Published: 02:54 IST(8/4/2013) | Last Updated: 02:55 IST(8/4/2013)

With charge sheets taking a torturous seven-eight months to file, it is no wonder that cybercriminals are not punished swiftly enough. 

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The stipulated time period for filing these charge sheets, which are required for the trial to begin, is 90 days.

Unlike other crimes, proving charges in cyber offences entails a major reliance on technical data extracted from the device the accused used, said an official who did not wish to be named. "In such cases, we need to send the devices to the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) at Kalina. It normally takes a year for them to send us the data, which can be used as evidence against an accused."

While the police can submit the charge sheet before the court and add the FSL report later, the trial court will not pass a judgment before going the through the report. "We have an in-house laboratory, but that can only be used for investigation purposes. Its report will not be accepted in a court of law," the official added.

Additional commissioner of police (crime) Niket Kaushik said, "It does take a long time for us to get the test results from FSL in cases of cybercrime. But there is continuous interaction between the cyber police and the FSL on the various cases submitted there."

FSL director MK Malve agreed that there was a problem. "The new technology department - which checks on cybercrime cases - enlists temporary staff. So if their contract expires while working on a particular case, someone new has to take it up, causing delays. We have written to the home ministry to make the posting permanent."

The officer claimed that because of the delay in getting technical data along with a delayed response from mobile service providers and banks, they almost never file a charge sheet in the allotted 90-day period, failing which the accused has a right to get bail. "It does not, however, make a big difference as most offences under the IT act are bailable anyway. But it does delay the trial."

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