With the advancement in technology, the business communities are continuously making a shift towards electronic commerce and transborder contracts. This has brought in a new requirement for new regulations for its legal endorsement. Moreover, while the shift towards a techno-savvy environment has been advantageous to various domains, yet, it has also exhibited its liabilities in the form of various emerging cyber crimes, that are becoming more and more sophisticated.
In order to address this upcoming issue, the United Nations, through its core agency, the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), had formulated a model legislation on electronic commerce in 1996. Based on this model, India also formulated the Information Technology Act, 2000. The IT Act is the first legislation in India dealing with legal recognition and validity of electronic transactions, electronic documents, as well as cyber offences.
The Information Technology Act, 2000 was enacted on 17th May, 2000, making India one of the few countries and in fact, the 12th country to have a separate law in place to deal with information technology issues. It was further amended by the Information Technology Amendment Bill, 2008. The act was formulated to promote the IT industry, regulate e- commerce, facilitate e-transaction and prevent cybercrime thereby advancing economic growth and a new era of e-governance has come into existence which helps in bringing transparency, efficiency and accountability in governance.
Objectives of the Act
The various objectives of the Act are as follows:
- To grant legal recognition to all transactions done via electronic exchange of data or other electronic means of communication commonly referred to as “electronic commerce”.
- To give legal recognition to digital signatures for the authentication of any information or matters requiring legal authentication.
- To facilitate the electronic filing of documents with Government agencies and E-payments.
- To facilitate the electronic storage of data.
- To give legal sanction and also facilitate the electronic transfer of funds between banks and financial institutions.
- To grant legal recognition to bankers under the Evidence Act, 1891 and the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934, for keeping the books of accounts in electronic form.
- To amend the Indian Penal Code, 1860; Indian Evidence Act,1872; the Banker’s Books Evidence Act, 1891; Reserve Bank of India Act ,1934.
Applicability of the Act
According to Section 1 (2) of the IT Act, 2000, the act shall extend to the whole of India and also applies to any offence or contravention committed outside India by any person, irrespective of his/her nationality. Furthermore, according to section 75, it was added that the Act will apply to an offence or contravention committed outside India by any person, if such act or conduct constituting the offence or contravention involves a computer, computer system or computer network located in India.
Non-Applicability of the Act
The Act shall not apply to the following documents or transactions –
- A negotiable instrument as defined in Sec.13 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881;
- A power of attorney as defined in Sec.1A of the Powers of Attorney Act, 1882;
- A trust as defined in Section 3 of the Indian Trusts Act, 1882;
Will as defined in Sec.2(h) of the Indian Succession Act, 1925 including
any other testamentary disposition by whatever name called;
- Any contract for the sale or conveyance of immovable property or any interest in such property.
Amendments made by the Act
Some of the important laws amended by the IT Act, 2000, to keep in tune with the technological changes included The Indian Penal Code of 1860 and the Indian Evidence Act of 1872.
Amendments related to IPC, 1860, were contained in Sec.91 and the First Schedule of the IT Act, 2000. Amendments were made to the following sections of the IPC, 1860: Section 4, 40(2), 118, 119 and 464.
Amendments related to the evidence Act were contained in Sec.92 and the Second Schedule of the IT Act, 2000. Amendments were made to the following sections of the IEA, 1872: Section 3, 47A, 67A, 85A, 85B, 85C, 90A and a new section 45A was added.
Scheme of the Act
The act consists of 90 sections spread over 13 chapters [Sections 91, 92, 93 and 94 of the Act were omitted by the Information Technology (Amendment) Act 2008] and has 2 schedules.[ Schedules III and IV were omitted by the Information Technology (Amendment) Act 2008]. The scheme of the Act is as follows:
- Chapter I deals with Preliminary information (Section 1 and 2).
- Chapter II deals with Digital Signature and Electronic Signature (Sections 3 & 3A).
- Chapter III deals with Electronic Governance (Sections 4 to 10A).
- Chapter IV deals with Attribution, Acknowledgement and Dispatch of
Electronic Records (Sections 11 to 13).
- Chapter V deals with Secure electronic records and secure electronic signatures (Sections 14 to 16)
- Chapter VI deals with Regulation of Certifying Authorities (Sections 17 to 34).
- Chapter VII deals with Electronic Signature Certificates (Sections 35 to 39).
- Chapter VIII deals with Duties of Subscribers (Sections 40 to 42).
- Chapter – IX deals with Penalties, Compensation and Adjudication (Sections 43 to 47).
- Chapter X deals with The Cyber Appellate Tribunal (Sections 48 to 64).
- Chapter XI deals with Offences (Sections 65 to 78).
- Chapter XII deals with Intermediaries not to be liable in certain cases (Section 79).
- Chapter XIIA deals with Examiner of Electronic Evidence (Section 79A).
- Chapter XIII deals with Miscellaneous (Sections 80 to 90).
- First Schedule consists of Documents or Transactions to which the Act shall not apply.
- Second Schedule consists of Electronic signature or Electronic authentication technique or procedure.
NOTE- To read about definitions , penality and punishment mentioned in IT ACT 2000, please visit this post.