The case of Tamil Nadu v Suhas Katti is worth mentioning for the fact that the conviction was successfully achieved within a relatively quick time of 7 months from the filing of the FIR. Considering that similar cases have been pending in other states for a much longer time, the efficient handling of the case which happened to be the first case of the Chennai Cyber Crime Cell going to trial is applaudable.
The case is related to posting of obscene, defamatory and annoying message about a divorcee woman in the yahoo message group. E-Mails were also forwarded to the victim for information by the accused through a false e-mail account opened by him in the name of the victim. The posting of the message resulted in annoying phone calls to the lady in the belief that she was soliciting.
Based on a complaint made by the victim in February 2004, the Police traced the accused in Mumbai and arrested him within the next few days. The accused was a known family friend of the victim and was reportedly interested in marrying her. She,however, married another person. This marriage later ended in divorce and the accused started contacting her once again. On her reluctance to marry him, the accused took up the harassment through the Internet.
On 24-3-2004, a charge Sheet was filed u/s 67 of IT Act 2000, 469 and 509 IPC before The Hon’ble Addl. CMM Egmore by citing 18 witnesses and 34 documents and material objects. The same was taken on file in C.C.NO.4680/2004. On the prosecution side, 12 witnesses were examined and entire documents were marked as Exhibits.
The Defence argued that the offending mails would have been given either by ex-husband of the complainant or the complainant her self to implicate the accused as accused alleged to have turned down the request of the complainant to marry her. Further, the Defence counsel argued that some of the documentary evidence was not sustainable under Section 65 B of the Indian Evidence Act. However, the court relied upon the expert witnesses and other evidence produced before it, including the witnesses of the Cyber Cafe owners and came to the conclusion that the crime was conclusively proved.
Ld. Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Egmore, delivered the judgement on 5-11-04 as follows: “The accused is found guilty of offences under section 469, 509 IPC and 67 of IT Act 2000 and the accused is convicted and is sentenced for the offence to undergo rigorous imprisonment for 2 years under 469 IPC and to pay fine of Rs.500/-and for the offence u/s 509 IPC sentenced to undergo 1 year simple imprisonment and to pay fine of Rs.500/- and for the offence u/s 67 of IT Act 2000 to undergo rigorous imprisonment for 2 years and to pay fine of Rs.4000/- All sentences to run concurrently.”The accused paid fine amount and he was lodged at Central Prison, Chennai.
This is considered as the first case convicted under section 67 of Information Technology Act 2000 in India. The impact of the case was far reaching. The internet had only started to emerge hugely within the Indian context and the laws for it were hardly stringent. However, the IT act and its implementation in this case helped both the courts and the public: it set a benchmark for the courts, inspired people and gave them strength to lodge cases in case they were harassed on the internet.