A dearth of officers who have the power to deal with cybercrime is primarily why the cyber police are reluctant to register such cases, officials said.
"According to the law, any case in which sections of the IT Act are applied has to be investigated by an officer of the rank of police inspector or above," said an officer from the cyber wing of the Mumbai police, requesting anonymity. "The BKC cyber police station has three inspectors and a senior inspector, while the cyber cell in south Mumbai has one inspector and a senior inspector. Considering senior inspectors also play a supervisory role, this means there are just four officers in the cyber wing who can investigate cases full-time for the whole city."
To put things in perspective, the cyber wing of the Mumbai police received around 2,700 applications related to cybercrimes in Mumbai in 2012 - an average of around 225 applications a month. "If four officers were to look into 225 applications each month, it would be more than a case for each officer every day. At times, it takes several days to investigate one case," the officer said.
As a result, when applicants approach the cyber wing of the police, they are often asked to contact local police stations, which always have at least four inspector-level officers, to lodge an FIR.
Mumbai police commissioner Satyapal Singh said, "Too many cases come to the cyber wing. So, we have asked the local police to register some of them, and the cyber police will provide them with technical assistance."
However, an officer who did not wish to be identified, said that on several occasions, the coordination between the local and cyber police results in unnecessary delay, with the complainant having to go from one police station to another.
"Either they should create more vacancies for inspector-level officers or amend the IT Act, allowing assistant inspectors or even sub-inspector to investigate these cases," the official said.
"Earlier, only officers of the rank of deputy superintendent of police were allowed to investigate such cases, but as cybercrimes went increased, the rank requirement was brought down to inspector in 2008. Now, there is a need for a relook as cybercrime cases have gone up in the past few years," he added.