CBI asks SC to authorise it to probe sex-related cyber crimes

The CBI has requested the Supreme Court to authorise it to investigate and prosecute all sex-related cyber crime in order to adequately deal with the “cyber-porn invasion of Indian cyber ecosystem.”

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) made the submission on Thursday in an affidavit in reply to a public interest litigation filed by NGO Prajwala. Sunita Krishnan, the NGO’s co-founder, had earlier drawn the apex court’s attention to a disturbing trend of rising number of videos recording sexual violence against women and being uploaded on the internet.

The premier investigating agency had been asked to file an affidavit on how such cases can be investigated.

In its affidavit, the CBI told the apex court India needs a dedicated agency to investigate such cyber sexual offenses. It asked the SC to make it the pan-Indian agency with the power to look into such cases and prosecute offenders.

The CBI said it was the only agency with the “highest experience and expertise in pursuing trans-jurisdictional investigations”, which was the need of the hour in such cases as most perpetrators live abroad or upload such material on foreign servers.

The suggestion is in line with countries like the United States which have a dedicated federal bureau to look into cybercrime related to pornography including child porn, revenge porn, and rape videos.

In its affidavit, the CBI has differed with statistics from pornography website worldwide and said there is a huge demand among Indian men for “violent sexual clips.”

“The cyber-porn invasion of Indian cyber ecosystem is also on account of the huge market potential carried by a large population like India, particularly the domineering male population that has time and again shown an insatiable lust and penchant for salacious material, including violence against women,” said the affidavit filed by T Rajah Balaji, superintendent of police, special crimes branch.

The agency’s affidavit added rapid urbanisation was another cause for the rise of cyber crimes.

“Rapid urbanisation that lead to disconnected lives of youth have produced a complex social crisis in this country, which can be correlated to the rampant proliferation of such (cyber) crimes.”

“Rape and gangrape represent the oldest and longest continuing instances of a criminal man’s inhumanity on women.

Committing such abhorrent crimes, recording them and disseminating them across the world through internet-enabled media serve to titillate and indirectly embolden other males to commit such heinous crimes. These not only add to the misery of existing victims but also endanger and threaten the safety of other innocent women and children,” the CBI’s affidavit added.

There is a special investigations team within the CBI that works in consonance with international agencies to catch cyber criminals. However, most complaints of cyber crimes often go to state or city police who do not have the jurisdiction to tackle such cases, where the offenders and offensive materials are often hosted on foreign web servers.

“The CBI has virtually agreed to the suggestions given by the petitioner to stop uploading of rape and gangrape videos,” said Aparna Bhat, Prajwala’s lawyer.

Bhat added now it was for the SC to take the matter further.

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