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FIR in Cyber Squatting: Misinterpretation of IT Act
Recently, a FIR has been lodged by the Economic Offences Wing of the Delhi Police on the complaint of the President Secretariat alleging the existence of the domain name www.pratibhapatil.com having no connection with the Hon’ble President. The preliminary enquiry revealed that a person from Kerala has got it registered and the website was hosted from Germany. The website has been got removed. There was no content on the website except some links of the other websites. The FIR u/s 66/66A IT Act and Section 469 Indian Penal Code was registered by the EOW with the opinion of the Public Prosecutor.

How much it is difficult for a common folk to get register FIR in a genuine case as heinous as rape where police simply turn down the complaint and do not register the FIR except when they are forced to do so by the order of the Court. However, the police acted very promptly on a complaint of President Secretariat where the preliminary enquiry made by police itself reveals that no offence is made out and Sections imputed under the Information Technology Act and Indian Penal Code is gross abuse of law and wastage of time by the investigating agencies that should devote its productive time to curb crimes and do some meaningful investigations into the genuine complaint registered as FIR. The Sections of the IT Act and IPC imputed in the aforesaid FIR has no connection with the allegations as mentioned in the FIR. Section 66 IT Act is applicable when a person dishonestly or fraudulently, does any act referred to in section 43 which contains mainly ten acts which mainly comprises of downloading, copying from computer without permission, introducing virus or contaminant, hacking etc. Clearly, the registration of the domain in the name of the President does not fall under any of the ten acts specified under Section 43 IT Act. Further, Section 66A is applicable for sending offending messages through communication device etc. which is clearly not applicable to allegations as made in the complaint. Lastly, the Section 469 IPC is applicable when electronic record forged is used or intended to be used to harm the reputation of other. The alleged website with the domain name containing the name of the President is without any content. Now, the question arises, how can it harm the reputation of the President except misleading the general public.

The aforesaid allegation in the complaint simply discloses the abusive registration of the domain name using the name of the President, which is a case of cyber squatting. The word “cyber squatting” is not defined under the Indian Laws. However, Cyber squatting (also known as domain squatting), according to the United States federal law known as the Anti cyber squatting Consumer Protection Act, is registering, trafficking in, or using a domain name with bad faith intent to profit from the goodwill of a trademark belonging to someone else. The cyber squatter then offers to sell the domain to the person or company who owns a trademark contained within the name at an inflated price.

The aforesaid case of cyber squatting or domain name squatting is not first of its kind in India. There have been instances where the domain names in the name of the famous personalities have been registered. One such domain name www.arunjaitley.com containing the name of Senior Counsel and BJP Leader Mr. Arun Jaitley was registered by the cyber squatter. Mr Jaitley filed the suit in the Hon’ble Delhi High Court, stating that his name was being used by some other person who had made a website using his name. Justice S Murlidhar granted an injunction to use the website and directed Network Solutions & Portfolio Brains Ltd not to sell or transfer the domain in his name until the proceedings of the court were completed.

The recourse available to the prominent person in whose name there is abusive registration of the domain name as alleged in the complaint filed by the President Secretariat is to:-

a) Filing a case under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) created by ICANN
b) Pursuing a litigation in the Court of Law or
c) Buying the Domain name

Thus, the allegation as contained in the complaint made by the President Secretariat do not attract any provisions of the Information Technology Act or the Indian Penal Code and the registration of the FIR is gross abuse of process of law and wastage of time by investigating agency.
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