Contrary to the popular perception that electronic evidence is required only for cyber crimes, due to the all pervasive nature of computers, the backbone of all evidence is electronic, in today’s world. A conventional crime might end up having more of electronic evidence than majority of the cyber crimes. In terrorist cases & also in cases of money laundering, the capability to collect, collate, analyse & present it in legally acceptable manner decides the fate of the case. This mastery is expected out of the digital investigators.
Necessary amendments to include electronic records in the definition of documents has already been brought forth in the Indian Evidence Act. The Indian IT has been in vogue since 2000, as amended in 2008. Section 65-B Indian Evidence Act now deals exclusively with the admissibility of the electronic record. It specifies the manner of admissibility. Compelling technological reasons can be attributed to the commensurate legal prescription.
Though the procedure has been laid, the necessary certificate required from the expert as per Section 65B has still a long way to go to become the norm. The cases thus falls flat. The conviction rate under the Indian IT Act is abysmal and a careful analysis shows that most of such cases get convicted under the IPC sections & not under the IT Act sections.
The skills for different stages of digital investigation leaves much to be desired. Skill upgrade by way of pure hands on training only can make a difference. Stringent SOPs can help improve the present situation. Being in nascent stage, there are hardy any court rulings to guide the investigator. This turns out to be a handicap. The present handling of the electronic evidence, does total injustice to the strength, solidity & utility electronic records can provide.
Understanding the digital ecosystem, having a digital mindset with legal understanding & modern investigative skills can bring the desired change.
EFFECTIVE ELECTRONIC EVIDENCE HANDLING SKILLS CAN TRANSFORM INVESTIGATION.