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Cyber crime punishments under BNS (Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita)

Updated: Feb 20

Introduction:


The advent of computer era and Artificial Intelligence has revolutionized human life, shaping daily lives of everyone of us today. However, despite the numerous benefits, the misuse of computers and AI has given rise to cyber crimes, criminal activities committed through electronic means. While the IT Act, 2000 addresses various cyber crimes, this article focuses on the complementary role of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023 (BNS) in providing punishments for specific cyber offenses.


Trend of Cyber crimes:


Initially, cyber crimes primarily occurred offline but evolved with technological advancements, posing threats to data privacy, social relations, and economic sovereignty. Examining the historical roots, the first cybercrime dates back to 1820 when Charles Babbage's invention of the computer witnessed sabotage by laborers, however, now cyber crimes are more often than not through online modes and with the thrust of the new criminal laws in India on digital investigations and trials, knowing about the penal liabilities on commission of cyber crimes becomes all the more necessary.


Cyber crimes with BNS Implications:


1. Section 294 of BNS:


- Addresses the publication and transmission of obscene material, including electronically. The punishment includes imprisonment and fines, with harsher penalties for repeat offenses.


2. Section 77 of BNS:


- Specifically deals with capturing or publishing pictures of private parts or acts of a woman without consent, constituting "voyeurism."


3. Section 303 of BNS:


This section specifically addresses theft related to mobile phones, data, or computer hardware/software. It offers a legal framework to prosecute individuals engaged in cyber theft activities. However, the applicability of special laws like the IT Act takes precedence in cases where they are attracted.


4. Section 78 of BNS:


   - Addresses the offence of stalking in both physical and cyber forms. Imposes imprisonment and fines for monitoring or bothering a woman through physical or electronic means.


5. Section 317 of BNS:


- Applies when an individual receives stolen mobile phones, computers, or data. There is a punishment for even possession of such property, even by third parties.


6. Section 318 of BNS:


- Address frauds, including password theft, creation of bogus websites, and cyber frauds. Imposes varying imprisonment and fines based on the gravity of the offense.


7. Section 336 of BNS:


- Deals with offenses like email spoofing and online forgery. Imposes imprisonment, fines, or both.


- This section also applies when forgery aims to harm a person's reputation.


10. Section 356 of BNS:


- Penalizes defamation, including sending defamatory content through email. Imposes imprisonment and fines.


Punishment for cyber crime under IT Act:


Data theft in India is primarily regulated by the IT Act, 2000. Within the IT Act, unlawful acts related to the disclosure of information in violation lawful contracts (Section 72A) and breaches of confidentiality and privacy (Section 72) are subject to penalties. Engaging in the unauthorized acquisition and use of a client's confidential customer or client list, resulting in a breach of confidentiality and privacy, may lead to liability under Section 72 of the IT Act, 2000.


Section 43 of the IT Act encompasses a range of activities falling under data theft. For instance, it specifies that individuals who, without proper authorization, download, copy, or extract data, computer databases, or information from a computer system or network, including data stored in removable storage media, are liable to compensate the affected party for damages.


Conclusion:


While the IT Act takes precedence in governing cyber crimes, BNS provisions come into play in specific circumstances, playing a complimentary role to the IT Act.


Frequently Askec Questions (FAQs) on Cyber crimes and Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS):


1. What is the role of Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) in addressing cyber crimes?


BNS plays a complementary role in providing punishments for specific cyber offenses alongside the Information Technology (IT) Act. It addresses various cyber crimes, offering a legal framework for penalizing offenders.


2. How has the trend of cyber crimes evolved over time?


Initially occurring offline, cyber crimes have evolved with technological advancements. They now predominantly happen through online modes, posing threats to data privacy, social relations, and economic sovereignty.


3. Can you provide an example of the historical roots of cyber crimes?


In 1820, Charles Babbage's computer invention faced sabotage by laborers, marking one of the earliest instances of cyber crime. Today, these offenses are more sophisticated and often occur through digital means.


4. What are the implications of Section 294 of BNS in addressing cyber crimes?


Section 294 addresses the publication and transmission of obscene material, including electronic forms. It prescribes punishments involving imprisonment and fines, with stricter penalties for repeat offenses.


5. How does Section 77 of BNS deal with privacy-related offenses?


Section 77 specifically deals with capturing or publishing pictures of private parts or acts of a woman without consent, constituting "voyeurism." It outlines penalties for such violations.


6. Does BNS cover offenses related to stalking?


Yes, Section 78 of BNS addresses offenses related to stalking, encompassing both physical and cyber forms. It imposes imprisonment and fines for monitoring or bothering a woman through physical or electronic means.


7. How does BNS handle cases of theft involving mobile phones and data?


Sections 303 and 317 of BNS pertain to theft of mobile phones, data, or computer hardware. Punishments are outlined, and special laws like the IT Act take precedence if applicable.


8. Are there provisions in BNS dealing with frauds and cyber frauds?


Yes, Sections 318 and 336 of BNS address frauds, including password theft, creation of bogus websites, and cyber frauds. Penalties vary based on the gravity of the offense.


9. Can BNS be applied when forgery aims to harm a person's reputation?


Yes, Section 336 of BNS applies when forgery aims to harm a person's reputation, either through physical or electronic means.


10. How does BNS handle cases of defamation involving cyber means?


Section 356 of BNS penalizes defamation, including sending defamatory content through email. It prescribes punishments involving imprisonment and fines.


Cyber crime punishments under BNS (Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita)





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