When 30-year-old artist Aanchal Shrivastav’s Facebook page was hacked and deleted in 2017, she approached Mumbai Police’s cyber crime wing to file a complaint. But filing an FIR wasn’t as easy as she thought it would be. She was asked to approach a local police station instead.
"After a lot of effort Facebook had verified my page, which was important to me as I am a singer and that helped me connect with more people for work. But when my page was hacked, I complained to the cyber cell and wrote to them constantly but there was no reply. They finally asked me to head to a local police station and file an FIR. I did so but nothing happened. I still can’t access my own page." - Aanchal Shrivastav
Even without Shrivastav’s complaint, Mumbai Police’s cyber crime department has over 3,370 cases waiting to be solved since 2014.
According to Mumbai Police’s recent report, 4,212 cases of cyber crime instances were registered in the city between January 2014 and March this year. However, only 841 of these cases have been solved by the cyber cell. That means just a shocking 20 percent of the total cases – or one in every five cases – has been cracked.
Why Conviction Rate of Cyber Crimes is Low
Experts say lack of trained officials is one of the key reasons for the low conviction rate.
"Police posted for handling cyber matters are trained to take on thugs and miscreants physically. They are not technically qualified or well trained. They feel that it is a punishment handling cyber crimes. Officers delegate work to constables or writers, and they botch up with electronic evidence." - Prashant Mali, cyber expert and lawyer
In a bid to reduce the dependency on the special cyber crime cell and cyber police station, a small unit of cyber officers and constables was set up in all the 93 police stations across Mumbai. Each police station has about three officers and a few constables dedicated to solving such crimes. But this too isn’t enough as the efficient officers are generally transferred or allegedly poached.
"What happens is most people want to get away from cyber crime postings as there’s no money or interest. There are very few officers who want to stay on and learn, but most prefer moving out. They must ensure that these officers remain in the cyber crime department. Good officers are absorbed by other companies. There’s a lot of poaching." - Ritesh Bhatia, cyber crime investigator
Apart from lack of manpower, jurisdiction and inadequate investigation tools are the other problems that slow down any investigation.
“We do not have bilateral treaties, nor we are signing treaties which would enable faster exchange of electronic evidences. We have MLAT and provisions of CRPC which are of ape age. Intra agency communication between law and enforcement is negative. We need servers of Google and Facebook and other biggies in India and we are going to need them faster” said advocate Mali.
With the push for digitisation, the number of cyber crime cases have only shot up over the last few years. While in 2014, 604 such cases were recorded, this number more than doubled by 2017 to over 1360. Experts believe one of the ways to combat this could be to rope in private players.
“You really need a public private partnership in cases like these because this is related to technology. For instance, in the US there are private detectives to help, here too they could seek help”, added cyber crime investigator Bhatia.
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