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Cyber Appellate Tribunal

The Information Technology Act, 2000 also provides for the establishment of the Cyber Appellate Tribunal. In this article, we will look at the establishment, composition, jurisdiction, powers, and procedures if a Cyber Appellate Tribunal.

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Establishment of Cyber Appellate Tribunal (Section 48)

  1. The Central Government notifies and establishes appellate tribunals called Cyber Regulations Appellate Tribunal.
  2. The Central Government also specifies in the notification all the matters and places which fall under the jurisdiction of the Tribunal.

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The composition of Cyber Appellant Tribunal (Section 49)

The Central Government appoints only one person in a Tribunal – the Presiding Officer of the Cyber Appellate Tribunal.

appellate tribunal

                                                                                                                                                   Source: Pixabay

The qualifications for appointment as Presiding Officer of the Cyber Appellate Tribunal (Section 50)

A person is considered qualified for the appointment as the Presiding Officer of a Tribunal if –

  1. He has the qualification of the Judge of a High Court
  2. He is or was the member of the Indian Legal Service and holds or has held a post in Grade I of that service for at least three years.

The Term of Office (Section 51)

The Term of Office of the Presiding Officer of a Cyber Appellate Tribunal is five years from the date of entering the office or until he attains the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.

Filling up of vacancies (Section 53)

If for any reason other than temporary absence, there is a vacancy in the Tribunal, then the Central Government hires another person in accordance with the Act to fill the vacancy. Further, the proceedings continue before the Tribunal from the stage at which the vacancy is filled.

Resignation and removal (Section 54)

  1. The Presiding Officer can resign from his office after submitting a notice in writing to the Central Government, provided:
    1. he holds office until the expiry of three months from the date the Central Government receives such notice (unless the Government permits him to relinquish his office sooner), OR
    2. he holds office till the appointment of a successor, OR
    3. until the expiry of his office; whichever is earlier.
  2. In case of proven misbehaviour or incapacity, the Central Government can pass an order to remove the Presiding Officer of the Cyber Appellate Tribunal. However, this is only after the Judge of the Supreme Court conducts an inquiry where the Presiding Officer is aware of the charges against him and has a reasonable opportunity to defend himself.
  3. The Central Government can regulate the procedure for the investigation of misbehaviour or incapacity of the Presiding Officer.

Orders constituting Appellate Tribunal to be final and not to invalidate its proceedings (Section 55)

According to this section, no order of the Central Government appointing any person as the Presiding Officer of the Tribunal can be questioned in any manner. Further, no one can question any proceeding before a Cyber Appellate Tribunal in any manner merely on the grounds of any defect in the Constitution of the Tribunal.

Appeal to Cyber Appellate Tribunal (Section 57)

  1. Subject to the provisions of sub-section (2), a person not satisfied with the Controller or Adjudicating Officer’s order can appeal to the Cyber Appellate Tribunal having jurisdiction in the matter.
  2. No appeal shall lie to the Cyber Appellate Tribunal from an order made by an adjudicating officer with the
    consent of the parties.
  3. The person filing the appeal must do so within 25 days from the date of receipt of the order from the Controller or Adjudicating Officer. Further, he must accompany the appeal with the prescribed fees. However, if the Tribunal is satisfied with the reasons behind the delay of filing the appeal, then it may entertain it even after the expiry of 25 days.
  4. On receiving an appeal under sub-section (1), the Tribunal gives an opportunity to all the parties to the appeal to state their points, before passing the order.
  5. The Cyber Appellate Tribunal sends a copy of every order made to all the parties to the appeal and the concerned Controller or adjudicating officer.
  6. The Tribunal tries to expeditiously deal with the appeals received under sub-section (1). It also tries to dispose of the appeal finally within six months of receiving it.

Procedure and powers of the Cyber Appellate Tribunal (Section 58)

  1. The Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 does not bind the Cyber Appellate Tribunal. However, the principles of natural justice guide it and it is subject to other provisions of the Act. The Tribunal has powers to regulate its own procedure.
  2. In order to discharge its functions efficiently, the Tribunal has the same powers as vested in a Civil Court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, while trying a suit in the following matters:
    1. Summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person and examining him under oath
    2. Ensuring the availability of the required documents or electronic records
    3. Receiving evidence on affidavits
    4. Issuing commissions for examining witnesses or documents
    5. Reviewing its decisions
    6. Dismissing an application for default or deciding it ex-parte, etc.
  3. Every proceeding before the Cyber Appellate Tribunal is like a judicial proceeding within the meaning of sections 193 and 228 and for the purposes of section 196 of the Indian Penal Code. Further, the Tribunal is like a Civil Court for the purposes of section 195 and Chapter XXVI of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

Right to Legal Representation (Section 59)

The appellant can either appear in person or authorize one or more legal practitioners to present his case before the tribunal.

Limitation (Section 60)

The provisions of the Limitation Act, 1963, apply to the appeals made to the Tribunal.

Civil Court not to have jurisdiction (Section 61)

If the IT Act, 2000 empowers the adjudicating officer or the Cyber Appellate Tribunal for certain matters, then no Civil Court can entertain any suit or proceedings for the same.

Further, no court can grant an injunction on any action that a person takes in pursuance of any power that the Act confers upon him.

Appeal to High Court (Section 62)

Let’s say that a person is not satisfied with the decision or order of the Tribunal. In such cases, he can file an appeal with the High Court. He must do so within 60 days of receiving the communication of the order/decision from the Tribunal.

The appeal can be on any fact or law arising out of such an order. The High Court can extend the period by another 60 days if it feels that the appellant had sufficient cause and reasons for the delay.

Compounding of contraventions (Section 63)

  1. The Controller or any other officer that he or the adjudicating authorizes may compound any contravention. Compounding is possible either before or after the institution of adjudication proceedings. This is subject to the conditions that the controller or such other officer or the adjudicating officer specifies. Provided, the sum does not exceed the maximum amount of penalty that the Act allows for the compounded contravention.
  2. Nothing in sub-section (1) applies to a person who commits the same or similar contravention within a period of three years from the date on which his first contravention was compounded. Therefore, if the person commits a second contravention after the expiry period of three years from the date on which his first contravention was compounded, then this becomes his first contravention.
  3. Once a contravention is compounded under sub-section (1), then no proceeding is possible against the person guilty of the compounded contravention.

Recovery of Penalty (Section 64)

If a penalty imposed under this Act is not paid, then the same is recovered as arrears of land revenue. Further, the license or digital signature certificate is suspended until the penalty is paid.

Solved Question for You

Q1. List the provisions in the IT Act, 2000 for the Cyber Appellate Tribunal.

Answer:

The provisions are as follows:

  • Establishment of Cyber Appellate Tribunal (Section 48)
  • The composition of Cyber Appellant Tribunal (Section 49)
  • The qualifications for appointment as Presiding Officer of the Cyber Appellate Tribunal (Section 50)
  • The Term of Office (Section 51)
  • Filling up of vacancies (Section 53)
  • Resignation and removal (Section 54)
  • Orders constituting Appellate Tribunal to be final and not to invalidate its proceedings (Section 55)
  • Appeal to Cyber Appellate Tribunal (Section 57)
  • Procedure and powers of the Cyber Appellate Tribunal (Section 58)
  • Right to Legal Representation (Section 59)
  • Limitation (Section 60)
  • Civil Court not to have jurisdiction (Section 61)
  • Appeal to High Court (Section 62)
  • Compounding of contraventions (Section 63)
  • Recovery of Penalty (Section 64)
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