Monday, November 16, 2015

SIT Informs High Court That Documents Used By Digvijaya Singh To Target Shivraj Singh Chouhan Are Forged But Doubt Remains

Use of cyber forensics and e-discovery methodologies is going to increase in India in the near future. Indian government has also realised this aspect and has already started modernisation of police force of India. This includes inculcating cyber law awareness, cyber crimes investigation trainings, trainings regarding use of cyber forensics, etc to the law enforcement agencies of India. Nevertheless the need to develop cyber forensics best practices in India and strengthening of cyber forensics and cyber crimes investigation capabilities in India has not yet been addressed by Indian government. Even the announced regulations and guidelines for effective investigation of cyber crimes in India are missing till date.

Clearly handling of digital evidence is a big challenge for the law enforcement agencies of India. We have seen this aspect troubling our law enforcement agencies in Aarushi Talwar’s murder case, IPL Match Fixing case, Bitcoins websites investigation, Nokia’s tax violation case, Rajnath Singh Son’s case, Amrita Rai’s G-Mail account hacking case, etc. Indian government must seriously consider empowering law enforcement agencies of India with suitable trainings and technologies. Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO) has started a dedicated LinkedIn Group named Intelligence Agencies and Law Enforcement Technology in India that is covering various techno legal issues applicable to these agencies.

According to a media report, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) monitoring the probe into the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board or Vyapam scam has informed the High Court that the documents used by AICC general secretary Digvijaya Singh to target Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan are forged. Previously Singh had alleged that the hard disk seized from an MPPEB official had been tampered with to ensure a clean chit to Chouhan by replacing his name in the original excel sheet with that of others.
The SIT claims that the documents appeared to be forged and this forgery has been done with the intent to mislead the investigating agency. To back its prima facie opinion, the SIT has given seven reasons after examining the documents and after the demonstration given by the technical staff of Special Task Force (STF), the investigating agency.

Singh, meanwhile, has identified the whistleblower who gave him the documents. “I am not saying that STF tampered the data. Investigations should be done from the day hard disk was seized by Indore police and truth will surface. Gujarat lab had received tampered disk from MP. I won’t change my stand on this,” the whistleblower told TOI on phone. “I became a whistleblower when I realized STF was relying on documents that seemed to have been tampered with. I thought real documents would come out. When they didn’t I had to come out,” he added. The whistleblower’s excel sheet has been authenticated by a private forensic lab and scientists there are ready to testify in the court. “STF has neither collected my statement nor have they contacted the labs to cross-examine my claims, else things would have been clear,” he said.

The SIT had sent the original hard disk seized from MPPEB official to the forensic laboratory in Gandhinagar. The laboratory has submitted its report before Special Investigation Team (SIT), claiming excel-sheet in possession of Special Task Force (STF) was “not tampered”. In February, Singh had submitted a 15-page affidavit before Justice Chandresh Bhushan-led SIT alleging that contents of excel-sheet, recovered from hard disk of MPPEB scam accused computer, were manipulated and tampered with to shield the chief minister.

While opening the special report submitted by the SIT in the court on Friday, a division bench comprising Chief Justice A M Khanvilkar and Justice Alok Aradhe posted the matter for further hearing on April 27. Without elaborating, the division bench said, “The STF is free to consider all aspects of the matter and issue such instructions to STF as may be necessary in the circumstances, to be proceeded in accordance with the law.” A government lawyer said this could be interpreted to mean that the STF was free to act against those who had conspired to submit false evidence.