With cyber crimes on the upswing, are our law enforcement agencies and banks geared up to face the threat to depositors who risk being defrauded?
In his recent orders passed as an adjudicating officer under the Information Technology Act 2000, Rajesh Aggarwal, Maharashtra's principal secretary, IT department, has come down heavily on the police for lack of proper investigations and an inadequate response, which had led to cyber criminals being "given a free run".
He has also pointed to the inadequate protection provided to customers by banks in electronic transactions and the lack of insurance to consumers against possible frauds.
According to the 'Crime in Maharashtra-2012' report compiled by the state CID, cyber crimes have increased from 306 in 2011 to 471 in 2012, with the number of persons arrested too rising from 226 to 324, respectively. Such crimes registered under the IPC too have gone up from 87 in 2011 to 90 in 2012.
"I have gone through websites indicating protection offered by various banks abroad to customers. Most of the banks in developed countries insure their customers against online/ATM frauds, etc beyond a liability of $50. In India too banks are expected to not only educate customers on precautions to be taken while using net banking or credit/debit/ATM cards, but also insure them against possible frauds. It is sad to see Indian banks that proclaim they are following the best international practices, not giving customers the same level of protection," said Aggarwal in his order on a complaint by an account holder against a bank regarding unauthorised transactions and transfer of funds from his account.
Ordering the respondent to pay a compensation of Rs 1.45 lakh to the complainant, he said: "Banks need to have more proactive policies to safeguards the interests of their customers as they do not have the resources to fight cyber criminals operating in anonymity and across national boundaries."
"I must also comment on the role of the Pune police. In case after case of cyber crimes, they have been making people run around, refusing to lodge FIRs, and then simply not doing anything at all. It seems as if criminals have been given a free run," said Aggarwal.
He has asked the Pune police commissioner to personally review such cases and train his staff in cyber forensics and investigations.
In another order on a complaint regarding unauthorised credit card transactions, Aggarwal, directing the bank to pay compensation of Rs 40,000, commented on the poor quality of investigations. "The investigation has been sketchy. The Mumbai police commissioner should organise classes for officials dealing with cyber-crimes, so that they carry out meaningful investigations into cyber crimes," he added.