The internet’s integration into modern life, impacting everything from business to our daily routines, has created a double-edged sword. Technological advancements have made organizations more susceptible to cybercrime, with criminals exploiting the web for financial gain.

India faces a growing problem of digital financial crimes, especially in its financial hub, Mumbai. However, the traditional justice system struggles to keep pace. Law enforcement faces challenges like a lack of specialized skills, operational hurdles due to the borderless nature of cybercrime, legal ambiguities in existing laws, and a shortage of trained personnel.

To effectively combat this evolving threat, India’s justice system needs to adapt and overcome these hurdles.

Keywords: Cybercrime, Criminal Justice System, Internet 


The internet has become an indispensable part of life, revolutionizing everything from business to social interaction. Since its introduction in 1989, it has grown into a global network connecting more people than ever before. This interconnectedness, fueled by advancements in computer science and the World Wide Web, has profoundly impacted society. From e-commerce and social media to online education and entertainment, the internet has transformed the way we live. It has collapsed geographical and temporal barriers, allowing for communication across borders in real-time (Jang & Lim, 2013).

This reliance on Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) has fueled the demand for internet-connected devices. From cars and buildings to transportation systems and military operations, ICTs are heavily integrated into modern infrastructure (Gercke, 2014; Jang & Lim, 2013). Mobile technology, cloud computing, and faster internet speeds have brought everything – from work to shopping – to our fingertips. This digital revolution is evident in India, where mobile phone usage has skyrocketed, with both urban and rural populations embracing online activities. India boasts one of the highest phone penetration rates globally, a key component of the internet’s infrastructure (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Report, 2017).

However, this increased reliance on the internet has also brought a rise in cybercrime, particularly financial crimes. As more financial transactions move online, criminals exploit this shift with specialized software designed for financial gain (Broadhurst & Chang, 2012). India, like many other countries, faces this growing challenge of combating cybercrime in its evolving digital landscape.


Understanding the fundamental concepts of the area is essential before identifying the challenges faced by the many stakeholders within the criminal justice system. The virtual environment is created via an Internet-connected PC framework. The one such concept that we must understand is the internet, as it is the hub of all digital financial crimes.

  • Cyber Space

The Internet has grown to be a necessity in modern life. Thirty years have passed since William Gibson first used the word “cyberspace” to characterise “a consensual hallucination” in his science fiction book “Neuromancer.” Cyberspace is a term that is both fluid and subject to debate, according to Libicki (2009). You may think of cyberspace as the Internet’s counterpart. A network comprising separate computer devices linked to both other networks and devices as well as to other devices within the same network can be used to characterise it. Compared to other virtual realms like land, water, air, or even space, cyberspace is less palpable (Libicki 2007; Libicki 2009).

  • Cyber Crime

Cybercrime is a rapidly growing issue fueled by the increasing reliance on computers. While there’s no universally agreed-upon definition, cybercrime generally involves illegal acts committed using or targeting computer systems and networks. It encompasses traditional crimes like fraud and theft, as well as new offenses like denial-of-service attacks and malware distribution. Cybercrime can be categorized as acts targeting computer systems themselves (computer crime) or those utilizing computers for illegal activities (computer-related crime). Ultimately, cybercrime can be understood as any unlawful activity facilitated or perpetrated through global electronic networks.

  • Economic Crime

Financial crime, accounting for 4.8% of total crime in India, is on the rise due to increasing reliance on technology. While the concept of economic crime has been present in Indian literature, the term ‘white-collar crime’ was coined by sociologist Edwin Sutherland in 1939. He defined it as crime committed by individuals of high standing and economic power, often within their profession. Financial crime, as defined by Gordon (1996), involves illegal acts committed through deception and fraud by individuals with specialized knowledge for personal or organizational financial gain, often exploiting others.

  • Cyber Economic crime

The rise of online financial crimes has led to a new category: Cyber Financial Misconduct (CFM). This involves using computers and the internet for financial gain through activities like fraud, tax evasion, and phishing.

Financial crimes and cybercrime are intertwined. Cybercrime uses computers for criminal activity, while financial crimes target money. Digital innovation creates vulnerabilities that criminals exploit.

India’s legal system struggles to handle these new crimes. Existing laws like the IT Act don’t fully cover digital financial misconduct. This creates confusion about which law applies to specific situations.

Cybercrime is a growing problem in India, impacting businesses significantly. Studies show a rise in cyber-related financial crimes, highlighting the need for clearer laws and better enforcement.

  • Criminal Justice System

The Indian Criminal Justice System strives to achieve equity, transitioning from its roots in colonial-era laws to a more inclusive framework. This system relies on a coordinated effort by various stakeholders, including police forces, court systems, investigators, defense and prosecution lawyers, forensic experts, and correctional facilities. The Criminal Procedure Code (1973) serves as the blueprint, outlining the roles and responsibilities of each participant. Police officers take the lead in conducting initial investigations and apprehending suspects. Forensic laboratories analyze evidence to aid in investigations and court proceedings. The prosecution presents the case for the state, while the defense ensures the accused receives fair representation. Ultimately, the judiciary presides over trials and determines appropriate sentences for convicted criminals. While this structure lays the groundwork for a just system, there are likely unaddressed challenges faced by those working within it.

  • Legal Framework for Cyber Economic Crimes

India’s legal system for criminal offenses is a layered one. The Indian Penal Code, established in 1860, serves as the foundation, addressing a vast array of major criminal acts. For crimes committed specifically through information technology, the Information Technology Act of 2000, amended in 2008, provides a specialized legal framework. Guiding the overall process is the Criminal Procedure Code (1973), which dictates the proper procedures for criminal investigations and trials, regardless of the specific offense. Similarly, the Indian Evidence Act (1872) establishes the rules for presenting evidence in court, including evidence related to economic crimes. Notably, there is no single, comprehensive law dedicated solely to economic offenses in India. This lack of a specialized legal instrument is likely one of the key challenges identified in this study.

  • Jurisdiction and Cyber Crime

A court’s authority hinges on proper jurisdiction, otherwise its decisions lack legitimacy and force. A major hurdle in online jurisdiction arises because cybercrime often involves actors scattered across the globe. Determining the appropriate location for a case can be incredibly difficult, torn between where the offender is situated and where the crime’s effects are felt.

Fortunately, India’s Information Technology Act (2000) offers a broader scope. It applies not only throughout India but also envisions prosecuting offenses committed outside the country by any person. This grants Indian courts “extra-territorial jurisdiction,” empowering them to hear cases of cybercrimes happening outside India, regardless of the perpetrator’s nationality. However, there’s a caveat: for crimes against foreign citizens, the offense must involve a computer or network located in India.


The rise of cybercrime has significantly impacted global criminal justice systems. This is particularly true as governments increasingly rely on online services to deliver services to citizens. Criminals are exploiting this shift, often using computers and electronic media during the course of their crimes.

The effectiveness of computers and the internet for traditional crimes has led criminals to adopt these tools for their criminal activities. To effectively combat this evolving landscape, law enforcement agencies need specialized Cyber Crime Investigation Cells. These units wouldn’t just address cybercrimes directly, but also investigate traditional crimes that increasingly involve elements like encryption, hidden communication channels, and steganography, all of which are being used by terrorists and organized crime groups. Several recent cases highlight the growing use of computers and electronic tools to facilitate traditional crimes, blurring the lines between the two categories. Organized crime, terrorism, and even “ordinary” crimes are now frequently intertwined with the online world.


Cybercriminals are classified according to the thing they require in mind at the time of the crime. Many cybercriminals target criminals such as: 

(a) Children and teenagers in the six- to eighteen-year-old age group, given their propensity to comprehend and investigate the things, and occasionally to demonstrate their unique attributes.
(b) Union hackers—they need their own targets to be realised;

 (c) Skilled hackers, or cracked hackers—are used to break into rival websites and obtain valuable, believable, and trustworthy data; 

(d) Unhappy employees—these people include those who feel that their boss has taken advantage of them or who are not happy with their job. They so turn to such justifiably illegal actions in order to exact retribution. 


Following are the various types of Cyber Crimes that are specifically mentioned by the IT Act, 2000

  • Tampering with Computer Source Documents

Cybercrime can encompass more than just hacking or online fraud. The act of deliberately hiding, destroying, or altering any computer data used for legal purposes can also be a crime. This includes text files on a computer system or network that are crucial for its proper functioning.

A real-life example comes from the case of Cox v Riley. In this case, a disgruntled employee intentionally deleted a computer program from a chip that controlled a computerized saw. This action rendered the saw unusable, causing both inconvenience and financial burden to repair it. The judge, Sir Leslie Stephen Brown LJ, ruled that the employee’s act constituted a crime because it significantly hindered the lawful use of the saw. This case emphasizes that tampering with computer data to disrupt its intended function can be a serious criminal offense.

  • Hacking with Computer System

Hacking, in simple terms, is like bypassing security to sneak into a computer system without permission. Hackers often try to guess passwords or trick security programs by using clever solutions.

The case of Donald Gene Burleson is a good example. Burleson, a skilled programmer, got fired from his company, USPA. Knowing the passwords of USPA’s computer administrators, he decided to get revenge. He created a program that deleted important data stored on the systems and shut down the entire network for four hours. Because of his actions, he was found guilty of hacking USPA’s computer system and destroying their data.

  • Publishing of Information which is Obscene in Electronic form

In simpler terms, it’s illegal to publish or transmit any obscene material electronically. This could include images or videos that are deemed offensive or indecent.

A landmark case in the US, US vs. Thomas (1996), exemplifies this. The defendant ran a website where users could download images and even order obscene videos delivered to their homes. The court found him guilty of transmitting obscene material, highlighting that such content cannot be freely distributed online, especially in areas where it’s prohibited.

  • Protected System

Unauthorized access to secure computer systems is a serious offense in India. Anyone who gains or attempts to gain unauthorized access to a protected system can face imprisonment for up to 10 years and a hefty fine. This is likely to be particularly applicable to websites of Certification Authorities (CAs) which the government considers critical to the national economy. These CA websites play a vital role in facilitating e-commerce activities, making them high-priority targets for protection. By imposing harsh penalties for unauthorized access, the government aims to deter criminals and safeguard these essential systems.

  • Breach of Confidentiality and Privacy

India has laws in place to protect electronic data. Accessing or disclosing someone’s electronic records, like documents or emails, without their consent is a crime under the Information Technology Act. This includes situations where someone obtains authorized access but then misuses the information for unintended purposes.

A court case highlights this. In MHz Gregor vs. Procurator Fiscal Service, a man pressured a police officer to find information about his daughter’s partner. The officer accessed the data through official channels, but the man then used it for personal reasons, violating data protection laws. This case shows that even authorized access can be a crime if the information is misused.


Here are some key steps you can take to protect yourself from cybercrime:

  1. Beware of Phishing Scams: Your bank will never send emails requesting personal information like passwords or PINs. These are phishing attempts designed to steal your data.
  2. Secure Your Smartphone: Think of your phone as a powerful computer susceptible to attacks. Keep your software updated and create strong passwords to safeguard your data.
  3. Protect Your Personal Information: Avoid sharing your entire birthdate or easily guessable answers to security questions on social media. Take care what you disclose online.
  4. Use Caution with Public Wi-Fi: Public Wi-Fi networks are often unsecured. Avoid using them for financial transactions unless you have a strong Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection.
  5. Public Computers Pose a Threat: Public computers might be compromised with software that records keystrokes, capturing your passwords and account numbers. Refrain from accessing sensitive information on public devices.
  6. Credit Cards Offer More Protection: When shopping online, consider using credit cards instead of debit cards. Generally speaking, credit cards provide superior security against unauthorised transactions.
  7. Shop Wisely Online: Only purchase from reputable websites with “https” in the address bar. Fake online stores can steal your credit card information.
  8. Monitor Your Accounts Regularly: Regularly check your bank accounts and credit reports for suspicious activity. You can also request a free credit report annually to ensure no fraudulent accounts are opened in your name.
  9. Be Wary of Suspicious Emails: Don’t click on links in emails that appear suspicious, even if they seem to be from friends. These emails can contain viruses or malware designed to steal your information.


The ever-changing internet, while a marvel, also attracts a growing wave of cybercrime. India’s Information Technology Act and similar national laws around the world are positive efforts, but they might not be enough in the long run. The ideal solution, as some argue, lies in a global law specifically designed for the internet. This international legislation would regulate online activity and tackle cybercrime across borders. Such a unified legal framework could create a stronger front against this evolving threat and promote a safer online space for everyone. However, the effectiveness of cyber laws, whether national or international, depends on more than just penalties. Further measures are needed to ensure these laws can effectively adapt and respond to the ever-changing tactics of cybercriminals.


  1. What is cyber crime?

Criminal activity involving the use of computers and the internet is referred to as cyber crime. Hacking, identity theft, and online fraud are examples of this, as are more sophisticated crimes like cyber terrorism and economic espionage.

  1. How do cyber crimes differ from traditional crimes?

Cybercrimes may be perpetrated remotely and frequently involve no physical presence, impacting victims all over the world. They also provide particular difficulties including jurisdictional problems and digital proof.

  1. How is cyber crime regulated legally?

Depending on the nation, different laws govern different aspects of cybercrime. For example, the Information Technology Act, 2000 and certain portions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) govern it predominantly in India.

  1. What are the challenges faced by law enforcement in tackling cyber crimes?

Among the difficulties include the offenders’ anonymity, legal concerns, the fast advancement of technology, a deficiency of knowledge in digital forensics, and inadequate global collaboration.



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