India saw its first cybercrime conviction recently. It all began after a complaint was filed by Sony India Private Ltd, which runs a website called www.sony- ambandh.com, targeting Non Resident Indians. The website enables NRIs to send Sony products to their friends and relatives in India after they pay for it online. The company undertakes to deliver the products to the concerned recipients. In May 2002, someone logged onto the website under the identity of Barbara Campa and ordered a Sony Colour Television set and a cordless head phone.
She gave her credit card number for payment and requested that the products be delivered to Arif Azim in Noida. The payment was duly cleared by the credit card agency and the transaction processed. After following the relevant procedures of due diligence and checking, the company delivered the items to Arif Azim. At the time of delivery, the company took digital photographs showing the delivery being accepted by Arif Azim.
The transaction closed at that, but after one and a half months the credit card agency informed the company that this was an unauthorized transaction as the real owner had denied having made the purchase.
The company lodged a complaint for online cheating at the Central Bureau of Investigation which registered a case under Section 418, 419 and 420 of the Indian Penal Code.
The matter was investigated into and Arif Azim was arrested. Investigations revealed that Arif Azim, while working at a call centre in Noida gained access to the credit card number of an American national which he misused on the company’s site.The CBI recovered the colour television and the cordless head phone.
In this matter, the CBI had evidence to prove their case and so the accused admitted his guilt. The court convicted Arif Azim under Section 418, 419 and 420 of the Indian Penal Code — this being the first time that a cybercrime has been convicted.
The court, however, felt that as the accused was a young boy of 24 years and a first-time convict, a lenient view needed to be taken. The court therefore released the accused on probation for one year.
The judgment is of immense significance for the entire nation. Besides being the first conviction in a cybercrime matter, it has shown that the the Indian Penal Code can be effectively applied to certain categories of cyber crimes which are not covered under the Information Technology Act 2000. Secondly, a judgment of this sort sends out a clear message to all that the law cannot be taken for a ride.
Ref: Talwant Singh
Addl. District & Sessions Judge, Delhi