Cyber terrorism cases | NIA needs additional infra and domain specialists, say experts

A view of National Investigation Agency (NIA), in New Delhi. File   | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

The National Investigation Agency (NIA), which was given the mandate to take up cases of cyber terrorism over two years ago, should be provided with additional infrastructure and domain experts to probe such offences more efficiently, according to experts.

“While there are several designated laboratories for forensic analysis of evidence, domain experts equipped with all necessary state-of-the-art tools should be involved from the inception of investigation. Evidence collection in the field of cybercrimes requires all together a different skill set,” said an official.

Concept of team investigation

Navneet Rajan Wasan, former Bureau of Police Research and Development Director-General who also headed the NIA, stressed on the concept of team investigation, which is prevalent in many countries. Referring to the ransomware attack on a pipeline network in the U.S. in May, he said such crimes were investigated there by teams comprising police officers and experts in the respective fields.

“However, there is no enabling provision in the Indian legal system which empowers a domain expert to be formally part of the evidence gathering team. In the absence of such a provision, the prosecution is susceptible to charges of evidence tampering in case a domain expert is involved by any agency, as the Criminal Procedure Code authorises only the police to collect evidence.”

Mr. Wasan said domain experts were also essential for efficient handling of the tools deployed for probing such offences. During the UPA regime, investigating agencies had sent proposals for inducting experts and for a provision of adequate manpower training from time to time. A proposal was also raised for setting up an institute of excellence for the experts.

Given that cross-border probe often became necessary in cybercrime cases, Mr. Wasan said the system of joint probe, by investigators from India and the countries concerned, should also be adopted.

Mutual legal assistance

A detailed proposal along with a draft bill had earlier been sent to the then UPA government for legislation on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters, to enable speedy collection of evidence from abroad. However, another official said, it was yet to see the light of the day.

The NIA was empowered to probe cases of cyber terrorism under the National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Act, which was passed by Parliament in July 2019. The law included Section 66-F of the Information Technology Act in the schedule of the NIA Act, which pertains to cyber terrorism and prescribes punishment extending to life imprisonment.

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Printable version | Oct 19, 2021 12:42:21 AM |

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