Contemporary Legal issues: Right to information, Information technology law including cyber laws (concepts, purpose, prospects), Intellectual Property Rights (concepts, types, purpose, prospects)

Contemporary Legal issues:

Right to information India always took pride in being the largest democracy, but with the passing of the Right to Information Act in 2005, it has also become an accountable, interactive and participatory democracy. This right has catapulted the Indian citizen on a pedestal from where he can take stock of administrative decisions and actions and make sure that his interests are protected and promoted by the Government. The Right to Information Act is an important landmark for Indian democracy. By this Act the citizen of India has been empowered like never before. He can now question, audit, review, examine, and assess government acts and decisions to ensure that these are consistent with the principles of public interests, good governance and justice. This act promotes transparency and accountability in administration by making the government more open to public scrutiny.

The basic object of the Right to Information Act is to empower the citizens,promote transparency and accountability in the working of the Government,contain corruption, and make our democracy work for the people in real sense.It goes without saying that an informed citizen is better equipped to keep necessary vigil on the instruments of governance and make the government more accountable to the governed.The Act is a big step towards making the citizens informed about the activities of the Government. All the Public Authority designat Public Information Officer (PIO) and Appellate Authority (AA) for citizens to secure access to information and published the Proactive Disclosures in accordance with the provisions of the Act in October 2005.

Main provisions of RTI Act are:-

 RTI Act states 3 Levels of authority – Public Information Officer, First Appellate Authority, Central Information Commission(CIC).

 In normal course, information to an applicant shall be supplied within 30 days from the receipt of application by the public authority. If information sought concerns the life or liberty of a person, it shall be supplied within 48 hours. In case the application is sent through the Assistant Public Information Officer or it is sent to a wrong public authority, five days shall be added to the period of thirty days or 48 hours, as the case may be.

 Time period for Public Information Officer : Expeditiously or within 30 days from the date of receipt by public authority.

 Maximum time gap for 1st appeal : 30 days since limit of supply of information is expired.

 Time period for Appellate Authority : Within 30 days or in exceptional cases 45 days from the date of receipt by public authority.

 Maximum time gap for 2nd appeal : 90 days since limit of supply of information is expired.

 RTI act also asks for computerization and proactively publish information.

 Bodies applicable under RTI : Constitutional bodies at center and state ( Legislature, Executive, Judiciary), bodies/NGOs owned/financed by government, privatized public utility companies.

 Bodies excluded under RTI : Central Intelligence and Security Agencies, agencies of state specified through notification. The exclusion is not absolute.

 Central Information Commission shall consist of : 1 Chief Information Commissioner and upto 10 Central Information Commissioners.

 The Chief Information Commissioner shall hold office for a term of five years from the date on which he enters upon his office and shall not be eligible for reappointment.


In India, cyber laws are contained in the Information Technology Act, 2000 (“IT Act”) which came into force on October 17, 2000. The main purpose of the Act is to provide legal recognition to electronic commerce and to facilitate filing of electronic records with the Government.

Cyber Crime is not defined in Information Technology Act 2000 nor in the I.T. Amendment Act 2008 nor in any other legislation in India.

The Information Technology Act, 2000 essentially deals with the following issues:

 Legal Recognition of Electronic Documents

 Legal Recognition of Digital Signatures

 Offenses and Contraventions

 Justice Dispensation Systems for cyber crimes.

Main Provisions of IT Act 2000

Digital signature and Electronic signature:-Digital Signatures provide a viable solution for creating legally enforceable electronic records, closing the gap in going fully paperless by completely eliminating the need to print documents for signing. Digital signatures enable the replacement of slow and expensive paper-based approval processes with fast, low-cost, and fully digital ones. The purpose of a digital signature is the same as that of a handwritten signature. Instead of using pen and paper, a digital signature uses digital keys (public-key cryptography).Digital signature provides Authentication, Integrity and Non Repudiation.

E-Governance: Chapter III discusses Electronic governance issues and procedures and the legal recognition to electronic records is dealt with in detail in Section 4 followed by description of procedures on electronic records, storage and maintenance and according recognition to the validity of contracts formed through electronic means.

Section 66A :-Sending offensive messages thro communication service, causing annoyance etc through an electronic communication or sending an email to mislead or deceive the recipient about the origin of such messages (commonly known as IP or email spoofing) are all covered here. Punishment for these acts is imprisonment upto three years or fine.

According to Sec.1(2) of Information Technology Act, 2000, the Act extends to the whole of India and also applies to any offence or contravention committed outside India by any person. Further, Sec.75 of the IT Act, 2000 also mentions about the applicability of the Act for any offence or contravention committed outside India. According to this section, the Act will apply to an offence or contravention committed outside India by any person, if the act or conduct constituting the offence or contravention involves a computer, computer system or computer network located in India.

Common types of Cyber Crimes may be broadly classified in the following groups:- Against Individuals: –

 Harassment through e-mail

 Cyber-stalking.

 Dissemination of obscene material on the Internet.

 Defamation.

 Hacking/cracking

 Indecent exposure.

 Computer vandalism.

 Transmitting virus.

 Internet intrusion.

 Unauthorized control over computer system.

 Hacking /cracking.

Against Government, Private Firm, Company, Group of Individuals: –

 Hacking & Cracking.

 Possession of unauthorized information.

 Cyber terrorism against the government organization.

 Distribution of pirated software etc.

Contemporary Legal issues: Intellectual Property Rights (concepts, types, purpose, prospects)

Intellectual property (IP) refers to the creations of the human mind like inventions, literary and artistic works, and symbols, names, images and designs used in commerce. Intellectual property is divided into two categories: Industrial property, which includes inventions (patents), trademarks, industrial designs, and geographic indications of source; and Copyright, which includes literary and artistic works such as novels, poems and plays, films, musical works, artistic works such as drawings, paintings, photographs and sculptures, and architectural designs. Rights related to copyright include those of performing artists in their performances, producers of phonograms in their recordings, and those of broadcasters in their radio and television programs. Intellectual property rights protect the interests of creators by giving them property rights over their creations.

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations. It is dedicated to developing a balanced and accessible international intellectual property (IP) system, which

rewards creativity, stimulates innovation and contributes to economic development while safeguarding the public interest.

The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) is an international agreement administered by the World Trade Organization (WTO) that sets down minimum standards for many forms of intellectual property (IP) regulation as applied to nationals of other WTO Members.

For India, the WTO‘s TRIPs agreement became binding from 2005 onwards as the country has got a ten-year transition period (1995-2005) to make the domestic legislation compatible with TRIPs.

Under the TRIPS Agreement, the areas of intellectual property that it covers are:

(i) Copyright and related rights (i.e. the rights of performers, producers of sound recordings and broadcasting organisations); (ii) Trade marks including service marks; (iii) Geographical indications including appellations of origin; (iv) Industrial designs; (v) Patents including protection of new varieties of plants; (vi) The lay-out designs (topographies) of integrated circuits; (vii) The undisclosed information including trade secrets and test data.

Legislations which governs Intelectual rights in India are:-

 Copyright Act, 1957

 Patents Act, 1970

 Trade Mark Act, 1999

 The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection ) Act, 1999

 The Designs Act, 2000

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