Thursday, March 23, 2017

Old headless CAT Going TDSAT Coming, The IT Act, 2000 is amended

Old headless CAT Going TDSAT Coming, The IT Act, 2000 is amended
By Advocate Prashant Mali, Cyber Law Expert

The government’s in response to a February 2015 report of a parliamentary standing committee that noted the absence of uniformity in the conditions of service of tribunals.  Government planned a large-scale reshuffle of tribunals, the government sought to reduce the number of these tribunals and bring parity in the service conditions of their officials.
CAT (Cyber Appellate Tribunal) From 2011, has barely been functioning. It still pays out salaries to its employees but no judicial order has been passed nor has any case been heard for the last five years. A CAG audit had noted that after the retirement of the CAT’s last chairperson in June 2011, there has been no replacement appointed as of June 2016. However, members  and other staff continued to render services in the CAT since then and expenditure of Rs. 27.64 crore were incurred on its establishment for the period from 2011-12 to 2015-16 without carrying out its primary business of hearing and disposal of appeals. After a huge big GAP the matters now are transferred to National Lok Adalat on 8th April 2017 from the Cyber Appeallate Tribunal.
The IT Act, 2000 is getting amended by The Finance Bill 2017, following are the changes

A new clause (da) is added under Section 2, in sub-section(1) (da) “Appellate Tribunal” means the appellate tribunal referred to in sub-section(1) of section 48
2.  The definition of “Cyber Appellate Tribunal” clause(n) under Section 2, in sub-section(1) is omitted
In section 48 of The Information Technology Act,2000
(i)            For the marginal heading, the following marginal heading shall be substituted, namely:-
“Appellate Tribunal”;
(ii)          For sub-section (1), the following sub-section shall be substituted, namely:-
“(1) The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal established under section 14 of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997 shall, on and from the commencement of Part XI of Chapter VI of the Finance Act, 2017, be the Appellate Tribunal for the purposes of this Act and the said Appellate Tribunal shall exercise the jurisdiction, powers and authority conferred on it by or under this Act.”
(iii)         In sub-section (2), for the words, brackets and figure “shall also specify, in the notification referred io in sub-section (1)”, the words “shall specify, by notification” shall be substituted;
(d)      Sections 49, 50, 21, 52, 51A, 52B, 52C, 53, 54 and 56 shall be omitted.
(e)      for section 82, the following section shall be substituted, namely:-
“82.    The controller, the Deputy Controller and the Assistant Controllers shall be deemed to be public servants within the meaning of section 21 of the Indian Penal Code”;
(f)        in section 84, for the words “the Chairperson, Members, adjudicating officers and the staff of the  Cyber Appellate Tribunal”, the words “and adjudicating officers” shall be substituted;
(g)      in section 87, in sub-section (2), clauses (r), (s) and (t) shall be omitted;

Four important changes in Finance Bill 2017 with regards to Tribunals are:
1.    The Competition Appellate Tribunal will now be merged with the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal.
2.    The Cyber Appellate Tribunal and the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority Appellate Tribunal will be merged with the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal.
3.    The Industrial Tribunal is to also perform the functions of the Employees’ Provident Funds Appellate Tribunal.
4.    The Copyright Board will be merged with the Intellectual Property Appellate Board.

My Comments & Suggestions for TDSAT:
I welcome the move as the dud “Cyber Appellate Tribunal” never worked and was a black spot on cyber related litigation's. I suggest changes would be
A.   Having a Cyber expert as a full time member in the tribunal or atleast as amicus curae.
B.   Having a fixed date for the bench to sit
C.   Having the bench of TDSAT sitting in cities like Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad e.t.c
D.   TDSAT should use the same online platform which Cyber Appellate Tribunal was using for filing of online appeals with documents.
E.   TDSAT should do some extra work to be a vigilante on all the state Adjudication officers, which are as of date in deep lumbar state.
F.    TDSAT should lead the training and awareness initiative in the cyber area across the country.
G. There should be clarity of appeals which lie from the TDSAT, whether to a High Court or directly Supreme Court

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