24 July 2023 2:00 PM GMT
The Punjab & Haryana High Court has rejected the pre-arrest bail plea of a man in a case related to the hacking of computers of a centre where online examinations for recruitment to various departments were conducted.Justice Anoop Chitkara said the allegations against the petitioner and co-accused are grave and the evidence collected so far points to the petitioner’s involvement in...
The Punjab & Haryana High Court has rejected the pre-arrest bail plea of a man in a case related to the hacking of computers of a centre where online examinations for recruitment to various departments were conducted.
Justice Anoop Chitkara said the allegations against the petitioner and co-accused are grave and the evidence collected so far points to the petitioner’s involvement in the case.
“There can be no leniency while dealing with bail petitions of cyber-thugs in the matters of cyber-crime. Cyber criminals must be dealt with stringently and custodial interrogation of these cyber thugs in these kinds of sensitive matters is required not only to unfold the involvement of other persons but also to find out the vulnerability in the systems to stop future breaches”.
The court said If this scam had not come to light, many corrupt and unethical people would have got appointed to the sensitive post of Sub Inspector by giving money, and "it can be well imagined what kind of officers they would have become and how much injustice such officers would have caused to the communities and the State."
"We must realize that because of the hacking, a highly sensitive and essential recruitment in the police, not only got impaired but also got derailed. It also exposed the vulnerability of the examination system and the usage of breach-able and unsafe software. It is for the Executive to ensure that software used for such sensitive matters is fool-proof as well as secured and its code is written considering the present-day exponential technological advancements and to prevent the misuse of artificial intelligence by hackers".
Gurmeet Singh, who has been booked in the case under Sections 420, 465, 438, 471, 120-B, 409 IPC and Section 66-D of Information Technology (Amendment) Act 2008, had filed an anticipatory bail application under Section 438 CrPC. It was alleged that Singh was involved in finding candidates who could solve the online question-paper of the examination for the recruitment of Police Sub Inspectors in Punjab, and also running the place from where the examinations center was hacked.
According to the prosecution, it had received secret information that online examinations for recruitment to various departments were being conducted at Infra IT Solutions, Zila Parishad Complex, Patiala, and some hackers had hacked the computers.
It is alleged that one candidate Gurpreet Singh had secured the highest marks only because "a gang of cyber criminals" had hacked computer centers and someone else had remotely solved his question paper.
The FIR was lodged on the basis of the information received and upon investigation one co-accused Ankit informed the investigator about the involvement of the petitioner Gurmeet Singh.
The court noted that in the affidavit filed by the Deputy Superintendent of Police, it is revealed that the investigator has been able to collect sufficient prima facie evidence against the petitioner, “which indicates about his making entries in the call center, and after one Jasvir Kumar had left the center, and that the petitioner was running the aforesaid computer center from which the examination of recruitment for Sub Inspectors, was hacked".
Regarding involvement of the petitioner, the court noted that he was working at the center after Jasvir Kumar left, and there are various communications between the petitioner and other accused which he has failed to explain.
On the petitioner seeking bail on the ground of parity, the court said, “the petitioner seeks bail on the grounds of parity with the co-accused ... A perusal of this [bail] order reveals that these co-accused were granted regular bail under Section 439 CrPC, and one ground for their bail was prolonged custody. On the contrary, the petitioner is seeking anticipatory bail; as such, he is not entitled to bail on parity.”
"Even if one or two accused have been given anticipatory bail either because of lack of evidence against them collected at that point or because specific evidence was not brought to the Court’s notice, it would not entitle the petitioner to seek bail on the grounds of parity."
The court said the custodial interrogation is required, given the nature of allegations.
Case Title: Gurmeet Singh v. State of Punjab
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (PH) 134
Appearance: Ravinder Phogat, Advocate for the petitioner.
Karunesh Kaushal, AAG, Punjab.
Click Here To Read/Download Order