THE ISSUES OF JURISDICTION AND THE APPLICABLE LAW IN IT ACT 2000

The Internet has already become the commercial backbone of the world economy. As it increases in importance for the national and international economy, its smooth, trouble free operation will be seen as essential to commercial and national interests. More than 131 million Indian consumers have been victims of cybercrime and India has lost INR 1.24 trillion in cyber-attacks in the previous year . Most victims of cyber-attacks or frauds in India do not know how to proceed against a cyber-attack. Although multiple online cybercrime complaint portals exist , the procedure after filing such complaint is blurry.

The Information Technology Act, 2000 (“IT Act”) sets out a framework for resolution of disputes arising out of cyber-attacks like hacking, data theft, and phishing. In this paper key details of the framework has been discussed along with it the paper also explain The process of adjudication under the IT Act and the issue with the dispute resolution framework under the it act. The framework allows victims of such attacks to claim damages and compensation from the attackers. Cybercrimes are mostly dealt with by ‘cybercrime cells’ of the respective police departments. In addition to briefly discussing the the issues of jurisdiction and applicable law Jurisdiction .Jurisdiction is the authority by which courts take cognisance of and decide cases. The word jurisdiction is of large and comprehensive import, and embraces every kind of judicial action. Jurisdiction for our purpose is broadly of two types:

1.Subject matter jurisdiction

2.Personal jurisdiction

Subject matter jurisdiction Courts are creatures of statute – the legislature vests them with power, and may condition that grant of power on their ability to hear only certain kinds of disputes. Courts are not only restricted in terms of the persons over whom they can exercise power, they may be restricted in terms of the kinds of disputes that they can adjudicate. By subject matter jurisdiction is meant the power of a particular court to hear the type of case that is then before it. Invariably in any country there would be several courts and tribunals. Like in India, apart from the regular hierarchy, i.e., the Supreme Court, high courts, district courts, we also have specialized courts like consumer courts, family courts, income tax tribunals, customs tribunals, etc. The Information Technology Act, 2000 has introduced the Cyber Appellate Tribunal . So all these specialized courts, tribunals and authorities have been constituted to determine certain categories of disputes, because the law presumes, that for certain kinds of disputes specialisation has to be introduced as such specialised courts and tribunals would be best suited to adjudicate upon a particular kind of complex issue because they have some kind of background in that field. Broadly, a court would only hear a matter that arises within its defined and demarcated area.

Personal jurisdiction the most complex part is in the form of what is know as personal jurisdiction by which is meant the legal power of the court to render a judgement against a party to an action or a proceeding. In what circumstances would an Indian court or would a local court have jurisdiction over someone who is not within its local limits, who does not reside in those areas? It gets even more complex when there are cross border transactions and you have a dispute arising and the facts of the dispute involve more than three different countries. For example, a person in country A dispatches goods to a buyer in country B and the buyer finds that the goods are faulty and therefore wants to sue. Now, where does he sue? Does he sue in country A or country B or if the goods have passed to country C and got destroyed there does he sue in country C? Where is the locus going to be? Where is the situs, in which court is he going to sue? Can he sue in all three jurisdictions just because each jurisdiction has some kind of link to the transaction? Can an Indian intellectual property appellate tribunal in a trademark dispute haul up somebody in France for infringing the trademark? In other words, would the tribunal have personal jurisdiction over someone in France is what personal jurisdiction deals with. In the common law systems, the general requirement is that courts must have both personal and the subject matter jurisdiction. Whether a court has personal jurisdiction over a defendant is a function of the degree of contact between the defendant and the forum (for instance, is the defendant a resident in the forum, or does he only have infrequent or minor contacts there?).

                                                          APPLICABLE LAW

Once a court determines that it possesses jurisdiction to hear a case, it must then decide which substantive law should be applied to decide the dispute. As long as the parties are from the same jurisdiction it is usually a simple matter but this becomes a complex question when a foreign element is involved in a case. Determining the applicable law involves many of the same questions that arise in relation to determining the proper jurisdictional forum. For example, in a matter where consumer rights are concerned, the laws of which country are to be applied? The vendor would always plead for the application of laws of a country where the laws are not very consumer friendly and the consumer would always look for the laws that go to his advantage. In the copyright context, when protected material is made available or transmitted to consumers in many different countries, uncertainty may arise as to which country’s law governs the determination of authorship or ownership, the scope of rights, and the validity of contractual agreements? The application of the laws of one system, rather than the other, in most cases will lead to different results. These questions are always challenging, but become more intricate in the online environment.

                                                                 CONCLUSION

Considering the large number of incidents of cyber-attacks in the country, it is the need of the hour to bolster the current dispute resolution framework under the IT Act. The dispute resolution framework can create a strong deterrent for cyber offenders by forcing them to pay damages and compensation. It can also serve as an effective complaint redress platform for victims. In its current state it has failed to achieve the desired result.The authorities under the IT Act function in a vast domain, which encompasses issues relating to cybersecurity, intermediary liability, data privacy, and cyber offences. Therefore, these authorities must be adequately equipped to exercise their wide ranging powers.

The government has stressed heavily upon its Digital India initiative which will support India’s goal of becoming a $5 trillion economy by 2025.  Also, India has a  large user base of 697 million internet users. Considering India’s quest to digital transformation, it is pertinent to give teeth to the Act, especially to its dispute resolution framework. This will ensure that disputes in the cyberspace are effectively managed and resolved. This will increase the confidence of the masses as well as the stakeholders towards the regulatory framework.

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.

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In the year 2021, we wrote about 1000 Inspirational Women In India, in the year 2022, we would be featuring 5000 Start Up Stories.

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