What is meant by “Website”? by Dr.Debarati Halder

We are in 2022 and the pandemic has not left us yet. News channels are tirelessly sharing updates on surging cases, further closure orders for schools, virtual hearing of the courts etc. Where are we sharing the information? From where are we getting some information? It is “websites”. There are millions of websites hosted and also managed by different stakeholders who share different information on WorldWideWeb. Strangely, we do not find the definition of the term website in majority of legal documents but when we see from the perspective of cybercrimes, we cannot avoid the role of websites as websites provide a platform for sharing contents which may be offensive.

The term website is connected with the concept of world wide web which was invented in 1989  by British scientist Tim Barnes Lee who worked on Interlinking of webpage and websites as a scientist with European organization for  nuclear research (CERN). Lee’s work led to connect creation of worldwide web to attributing ip address, domain names, .ccreation of hypertext markup language , uniform resource locator (URL) etc. The major reason behind creating the web was to facilitate the demands of information sharing between the government stakeholders including the military, scientists in the universities and other institutes all over the world for the purpose of information sharing, gathering and strengthening national security including cyber security infrastructure and military intelligentsia. However, very soon in the millennium tech companies started appearing to create, host, maintain etc., of websites which were interactive, passive or hybrid types of websites and which could be used for either e-commerce purposes, or for interaction, peer to peer networking and information sharing or for all. At this juncture it became necessary to explain the term “website”. Even though, we do not get to see any uniform definition of the term in specific legal documents, the term has been attempted to be defined by different stakeholders. It may be broadly explained as collection of hyperlinked pages over the web and related contents which may be identified by common domain name and which may get published on world wide web by some web server.

Now we are dependent completely on different kinds of websites and we manage our homes and offices through these websites. Presently we get to see many legal persons, i.e., companies which may create their own websites which may be used mainly for information sharing, e-commerce purposes and interacting with people. There are different technology companies like Meta (earlier known as Facebook), specifically created for sponsoring, creating, maintaining websites and webpages who also collect data of the users/subscribers/.  We have heard a lot about liability of the websites. But websites in general are inanimate. They become legal persons only when they are operated by people who may create websites, connect to web pages, get a domain name for the websites, publish contents and facilitate peer to peer networking and/or share information as a passive website. Liability of the websites therefore depend on their activities that are decided by the creators/administrators/distributors/users of the websites.

Intermediary and Website are not the same: Even though there are several laws and policy guidelines have been made worldwide to consider liabilities of the websites including The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021, we have not yet seen the proper definition of website.  Even though S.2w of the Information Technology Act, 2000(amended in 2008) defines the term intermediary as any person who on behalf of another person receives, stores or transmits that record or provides any service with respect to that record and includes telecom service providers, web-housing service providers, search engines, online payment sites, online auction sites, online market places and cyber cafes”, the same should not be confused with the term ‘website’. An intermediary however can create, maintain a website.

Please note: Please  do not violate the copyright of this writeup. Please site it as Halder Debarati (2022) What is a website? Published in https://internetlegalstudies.com/2022/01/03/what-is-meant-by-website-by-dr-debarati-halder/ on 03-01-2022

Gender and Internet : Cyber law monthly magazine for women news update :30th November, 2021 -31st December, 2021

Image courtesy: Debarati Halder

American video game developer Riot Games agrees to pay $100m in a class suit for gender discrimination for various offences including allowing to develop email chain to rate the comapny’s hottest women employees, showing unsolicited images of male genitalia to women employees by their bosses and colleagues.

Philippines Department of Justice brings out draft of guidelines for cases of Gender-Based Online Sexual Harassment (GBOSH) under Republic Act (RA) No. 11313 or the Safe Spaces Act to facilitate evidence gathering and case building for supporting victims of gender abuse online

Madras High court in Tamil Nadu, India takes suo motu cognizance in a case where lawyer was seen in objectionable position with a woman while virtual hearing was going on. Court also orders for prohibiting of circulation of the said clip on internet.

YouTuber in Nepal gets arrested by police for creating and sharing obscene contents on YouTube and a Kathmandu court had remanded him. The police has initiated case against him primarily under Electronic Transactions Act, 2008.

Man gets 13 year jail term in Pakistan for alluring woman with job offer and then creating and sharing obscene photographs on social networking sites and extorting money from victim.

SriLankan woman living in Cyprus gets trapped in romance scam by Indian National from Tamil Nadu, India. Police arrested the accused and initiated case proceedings under Indian Penal COde and Indian Information Technology Act, 2000(amended in 2008).

Indian woman uses honey trapping for extorting money from men. The woman allegedly allured men and then filed false rape cases on the basis of communications over the phone and physical meetings for extorting money. Police arrested the woman and had initiated investigation under different legal provisions and is also scanning the electronic devices for further evidences.

Pakistan female actor snapped smoking inside her car and the video goes viral attracting trolls and abusers. Cybercrime wing of Federal Investigation Agency, Sindh, Pakistan, warns every one to not to share the video without consent of the actor.

Tiktok moderator in the US files suit against the company in a California court for exposing her to extreme graphic violent contents which significantly affected her mental health.

Gender and Internet : Web magazine for Cyber law for women News update for October 25- November, 30. 2021

#orangetheworld #Endviolenceagainstwomen #stopcybercrimesagainstwomen Image courtesy : UN Women

Police arrests man for sending lewd texts, threat messages and repeated calls to a female actor in India and charges him under different provisions of Information Technology Act. The accused is produced before the magistrate and sent for judicial custody for 10 days.

Woman falls into the trap of e-commerce fraudsters, shares bank account details and looses a little fortune. After making a police report immediately, the fraudsters’ details along with the bank details were tracked and frozen by the police. The woman received the lost amount to her bank account within record time.

Report suggests female gamers in Australia are preferring more online games than socializing and going for dating on physical space.

Man appears semi naked in virtual courtroom hearing for Karnataka High-count, Karnataka, India in spite of senior woman lawyer raising objection to the same. Senior lawyer plans to lodge sexual harassment compliant against the man.

Man shares rape threats to the infant daughter of the celebrity Indian cricketer and gets arrested by the police in India. he is charged with offences including child online sexual abuse, criminal intimidation, defamation etc.

Leicester police starts investigation for illegal live streaming of paid for TV programs and arrested woman over suspicion of livestreaming such programs along with another accused man. Charges framed under copyright laws and police warns for consumers who are consuming sch contents over illegal livestreaming platforms.

State attorneys general launches investigation into Meta (earlier known as Facebook) on the failure of liability of its platform Instagram to control harmful impact on children.

Police warns users of social media to secure their profiles as women in Victoria, Australia faces sextortion by perpetrators who culled out sensitive personal data by unauthorisedly accessing the profiles of the friends of the victims.

Norwich doctor uses pinhole camera for voyeurism purposes targeting women in his home, female doctors, nurses and mother of a child patient. He is charged with offences of voyeurism and has now been pleaded guilty for several offences in the nature of cyber crimes targeting women including voyeurism, unauthoirsedly accessing icloud system and douwnloading naked photos etc. He is punished with jailterm for two years and eight months by St Albuns Crown Court, England.

The celebrity ‘Drug on Cruise case’ of  2021 and the ‘may be considered’ Right to be Forgotten

Prof(Dr).Debarati Halder*

On October 3, 2021, India woke up to the big news of celebrity drug on cruise case where the key accused was a 23 year old young adult man, Aryan Khan. The news media revealed that Khan, the elder son of Bollywood superstar Shahrukh Khan, had been arrested by the officer of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), Mumbai and was charged for knowingly consumption, sale and purchase   of narcotic substances under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act. The family of the arrested immediately tried for bail, but was not successful. The legal technicalities revealed that Khan had to approach the special NDPS court for bail once the judicial magistrate who was hearing the matter of arrest of Khan rejected the bail plea on ground of non-maintainability of such bail matter in courts other than NDPS courts. Khan was first put in the custody of  NCB for a brief period after which he was sent for judicial custody, which in plain words may mean that he was put up in a regular jail meant for accused who has not yet been convicted by the courts. The NCB reportedly argued against his bail stating that being the child of a celebrity father, Khan may have every opportunity to access to narcotics, he may be able to get involved in the selling and purchasing of the prohibited substances.  Later when the matter went to Bombay High Court for appeal against the rejection to bail, the WhatsApp chats between Khan and his friends were also pulled in as the defense in the High Court wanted to establish that Khan was already discussing about the selling, purchasing, consuming etc. of drugs over WhatsApp chats. The Bombay High court however, granted him bail and he was released from judicial custody after two days of the passing of the order.

My concern here centers around the concept of privacy and confidentiality of the accused which flows from the Universal Declaration of Basic Principles of Human Rights,[1] adopted by the Indian Constitution[2] and which to a certain extent, reflects in the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 especially with the courts increasingly accepting the Right to be forgotten jurisprudence. We must not forget that an accused is innocent until proven guilty. Given the case of Khan, it may be seen that his arrest and then judicial custody in the jail in Mumbai became an open ‘document’ which has been consumed by public at large. Narcotic Drugs and psychotropic substance abuse cases may not be the regular criminal cases involving the offender and the victims unless otherwise proven where the substance consumer had been forced to consume such substances following several illegal mechanisms, or where the accused is found to have been involved in the drug peddling racket. Such cases may typically fall within the meaning of victimless crimes where ‘offenders’ themselves turn into victims of substance abuse. Such cases must be dealt with extreme care by the judiciary and the correctional administration where the offender-victim may need rehabilitation.  Such cases however are extremely complicated as it may often be seen that substance abusers may be involved in the drug peddling rackets too. But the central point here is, unless proven, the accused can not be considered as guilty even in such cases as well. Then why such cases of celebrity accused persons attract so much public attention and why certain media channels make such news items as matters of national level concern? One of the reasons for this in my understanding is, the inquisitiveness of the public regarding the life style of the ‘celebrity accused’. Several news channels shared the contents of arrest memo of Aryan Khan which in reality should not be shared unless it is considered as a public document by the courts. Some other news media channels shared stories as what should be Khan’s daily food routine as a detainee in the jail, [3] what did Khan read inside his prison cell, [4] etc.

We must understand that while the courts may make certain orders publicly accessible for ensuring transparency of the judicial proceedings, the same cannot and should not be misused for media trials.[5] The Bombay High court order for releasing accused Aryan Khan on bail is available on several legal news platforms.[6] But Khan’s Day to day to affair in the jail is a matter which must have been given a confidentiality cloak. Right to be forgotten is a protection against further victimization of the accused by the society at large and is an integral part of reformative justice jurisprudence whereby the accused may be given a new opportunity to join the mainstream society as a reformed and positive individual.  The case is not closed now and Khan is neither convicted, nor acquitted of the case. But when the prosecution may establish that he is guilty, and in such case once he finishes his sentence period, or when the defense may establish that he is not guilty, Khan may consider to request the court to exercise his Right to be Forgotten and the court may then consider directing different digital platforms to restrict public access to the bail orders and remove the contents about him which shows him as an accused from the digital platforms of different news media channels. Interestingly, Part III of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021(IT Act Rules, 2021) may offer some solace if Khan or any other person who may establish a proper locus standi, wishes to approach the court or the news media channels directly for applying Right to be Forgotten or for removing contents that may be misleading, damaging the reputation of the accused. Rule 8 of the IT Act, Rules, 2021 extends the application of the Rules to the publishers of the news and current affairs contents and of online curated contents and the application of these Rules for Part III is administered by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. The Rule suggests that any one who is aggrieved by any news content may directly contact the grievance mechanism cell established by the publisher of the news media portal/channel/paper. If the problem is not solved, then the aggrieved can reach out to the next level, i.e., self-regulatory body.[7] If the aggrieved is not satisfied with the decision of the self-regulatory body, then he/she can further approach interdepartmental committee which is considered as level III grievance redressal mechanism for the purpose of maintaining code of ethics, and which works for the oversight mechanism by the central government. In short, this Rule makes it easier for the aggrieved party   to approach the concerned authorities for removing or blocking an unwanted content which may be misleading, defamatory, damaging the reputation of some one etc. One may not approach the higher courts through Writ Petitions.  We must acknowledge that many female professionals including actors, models, athletes, journalists, writers and YouTubers etc., are constantly targeted in several news media channels for their daily activities , expression of thoughts or even cases of victimization of different sorts. If such women are held as accused or had become victims, they may also consider for applying for their Right to be Forgotten, they may also approach the concerned forums under the above mentioned Rule to remove unwanted news contents which are no longer relevant   But it must also be seen that application of Part III of the IT Act, Rules, 2021 should not pose a bar against judicial transparency and freedom of speech and expression.

 We must not forget that Right to be Forgotten is an extension of the right to privacy which every accused must have. Given the fact that the news stories about the accused in the Cruise drug case may remain floated on the information super highway for a long time, it is expected that the news media channels and their publishers may consider restricting further infringement of privacy of the accused.

Please note: The views expressed in the writeup are that of the author’s.  Please cite it as “Halder Debarati (2021) The celebrity ‘Drug on Cruise case’ of  2021 and the ‘may be considered’ Right to be Forgotten. Published in https://wordpress.com/post/internetlegalstudies.com on 06.11.2021”

*Prof(Dr) Debarati Halder, Ph.D(Law) is working as Professor of Law, Parul Institute of Law, Parul University, Vadodara, Gujarat. She is also the founder of Centre for Cyber Victim Counselling (www.cybervictims.org) . She can be reached @debaratihalder@gmail.com

[1] See Articles 11 (right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty), and 12 right to privacy against arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, attack upon his honour and reputation etc) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

[2] Even though the scope of Article 21 of the constitution of India has been expanded to include right to privacy due to the landmark cases including Justice Puttaswamy vs Union of India & others, Writ Petition (Civil) No 494 of 2012; (2017) 10 SCC 1; AIR 2017 SC 4161

[3] Outlook Web Bureau (2021). Lunch At 11 Am, Dinner At 6 Pm: Aryan Khan’s Daily Routine In Arthur Road Jail. Published in   https://www.outlookindia.com/website/story/entertainment-news-breakfast-at-7am-dinner-at-6pm-what-n956-aryan-khans-life-in-arthur-road-jail-looks-like/397783 on 16-10-2021. Accessed on 02.11.2021

[4] Livemint (2021). Aryan Khan reading religious books in Jail, say authorities. Published in   https://www.livemint.com/news/india/aryan-khan-reading-books-on-lord-ram-sita-in-jail-say-authorities-11635060965958.html on 24-10-2021. Accessed on 02.11.2021

[5] For more understanding, see The Chief Election Commissioner of India v M.R. Vijayabhaskar & Ors , Civil Appeal No. 1767 of 2021 (Arising out of SLP (C) No. 6731 of 2021). Available @https://main.sci.gov.in/supremecourt/2021/11474/11474_2021_35_1502_27915_Judgement_06-May-2021.pdf Accessed on 02.11.2021

[6] For example, see ARYAN SHAH RUKH KHAN. V/s THE UNION OF INDIA & ANR.CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION,  CRIMINAL BAIL APPLICATION NO. 3624 OF 2021 Available @https://www.livelaw.in/pdf_upload/aryan-khan-case-bail-condition-403194.pdf, accessed on 02.11.2021

[7] Rule 12(2) of the IT Act Rules, 2021 states as follows:

(2) The self-regulatory body referred to in sub-rule (1) shall be headed by a retired judge of the

Supreme Court, a High Court, or an independent eminent person from the field of media, broadcasting,

entertainment, child rights, human rights or such other relevant field, and have other members, not

exceeding six, being experts from the field of media, broadcasting, entertainment, child rights, human

rights and such other relevant fields.

(3) The self-regulating body

Gender and Internet : Web magazine for Cyber law for women News update for September 20- October 24, 2021

Image courtesy : Internet

Facebook targeted for not sharing expected transparency reports on policy measures for cyber safety of users inlcuding women and children

The first female governor of NewYork signs Bills into legislation for preventing cyber bullying and measuring impact of cyber bullying.

Japanese man uses AI to create deep fake contents by reconstructing blurred parts especially private parts and sells the contents online. Japanese police claims to have arrested and charged the man for violating obscenity laws.

Edinburgh court takes up matter for trial of man accused of terror offences who is found to have stored images of sexual activities with mutilated bodies of women

Frederick county grand jury in the US six men including one who is accused of raping woman, possessing child pornography materials.

Smart toilets pose more threat to privacy for men and women now.

Gender and Internet : Web magazine for Cyber law for women News update for August 26-September 19, 2021

Image courtesy: Debarati Halder

Hidden research shows teen girls may feel worse for bodyshaming if they use Instagram

Telegram is rapidly becoming a hub of criminals for using it for dark web

Woman along with two men charged by Miami Court for identity theft of several deceased victims for the purpose of creating credit cards and illegal transaction of money with the help of personal data of the victims.

Police investigation reveals that deepfake technology is being used for sextortion cases in India, which leads to further complications in justice delivery for the victims.

Gender and Internet : Web magazine for Cyber law for women News update for August 2-August 25, 2021

Image courtesy : Debarati Halder

Former editor of New York observer newspaper Kenneth Kurson faces charges by New York Prosecutors on the issue of installing spyware on the computer of his ‘then-wife’ for cyber stalking her.

Perpetrators gets arrested for morphing pictures to earn money

Penang police in Malayasia receives reports of job scam, majority of the victims are women.

Pasay City office of the prosecutor in Philippines suggests for bringing charges against former US diplomat for violating laws for protecting children from sexual offences under Republic Act (RA) 7610 or the “Special Protection of Children against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination” and RA 9775 or the “Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009.
The victim was made to involve in sexual activities and she was filmed.


Cyber cons are targeting police officers, judicial officers and educated people including women for financial frauds

Small time actress Meera Mithun gets arrested for her communal hate speech over cyber platforms in south India

Gender and Internet : Web magazine for Cyber law for women News update for July 27-Auguat 1, 2021

Image credit : Internet

Online food seller goes live to show the altercations between woman customer and the former as the customer refused to pay the balance because she did not like it. The customer knocks the door of the courts for filing case against the food seller as the latter’s act has allegedly infringed her privacy by showing her home and her mother.

Cyber security experts raise concern over growing voice cloning industry which is victimising all including women.

UK law Commission recommends banning of cyber flashing and abusive online messages and prosecuting the offenders on the basis of probability of harm on the victims.

Raj Kundra’s arrest related to his alleged connection with illegal porn industry reveals victimsiation of women in the showbiz

IT Expert turns into cyber cheat and dupes many including women who he met over social media platforms.

Gender and Internet : Web magazine for Cyber law for women News update for July 1-July 26, 2021


Photo courtesy : Dr.Debarati Halder

Pegasus software is being used for surveillance targeting journalists and activists including women.

Several men face huge loss in their crypto trade related to cryptocurrency OEN due to romance scam where they were allured to be involved with attractive Chinese women. Hongkong police initiates cross border investigation for nabbing the culprits.

Man continued to harass women over phone and escaped clutches of law by frequenty changing numbers. Police arrest him, sends to judicial custody and starts investigation over the complaint filed by one of the victims who approached the Superintendent of the police directly.

Business gets arrested by Mumbai police for allegedly being involved in porn racket which had targeted and victimized several female actors.

Bangalore police arrests conman who was duping women as royal family member of Mysuru, Karnataka.

Women activists in Baluchistan face online harassment which is forcing them to stop their activities towards gender empowerment.

Cyber fraudsters in Lagos , Nigeria allegedly use nudity of women who are procured by the former, to destroy the evidences when police nabs the crime hotspots to arrest such fraudsters.

Internet platform operators are held liable for online auctioning of Muslim women. National Commission for Women, India takes a strong note of the same and asks the criminal justice machinery to take immediate action.

UK government commissioned review suggests to make cyber flashing a criminal offence

Is using electronic payment mode mandatory?


We are facing challenge of Covid-19 restrictions. A whole generation is facing another unique challenge. Many senior citizens and people from socio-backward classes and communities are unable to exercise their basic right to life because they may be unable to use the electronic payment mechanisms.

By the end of 1990’s electronic commerce started getting popularity and almost by the first half of the millennium, banks of several countries had expanded their services for electronic money transactions. Soon plastic money in the forms of ATM, credit, debit cards etc., were introduced and the smart generation started relying more on plastic money rather than carrying currency in their wallets. But this proved dangerous for majority. There were physical theft of wallets and the cards, misuse of the cards, hacking of e banking systems which directly affected the card operating systems, ATM machines were unauthorizedly accessed, spycams were installed in the machines to detect the banking information including the passwords etc. Senior citizens were worst affected as most of them in countries like India could not operate the e-banking system or the cards: either they could not understand the operational mechanisms or they were not physically able to conduct the entire transactions either through the ATMs, or through their smart devices. This was due to generation gap.

With the advancement of technology, e wallets were introduced. Through online banking mechanisms, one can deposit a particular amount of money in e—wallets. However, this would not be operating as a single and independent device or mechanism. Users may connect their valid government identity proofs with e-wallets. Such e-wallets may necessarily be used through computers, smart phones etc.[1]Everything remains virtual except the device/s that will help a user to access the online transaction mechanisms. It has been continuously stated that plastic money, e-wallets and e-banking systems are safe and better than carrying the currency.

But do we really know who is safeguarding our money in this system? A few provisions Chapter III of our very own Information Technology Act, 2000(amended in 2008) would make this clear. Chapter III discusses about electronic governance. S.6A of the Information Technology Act (IT Act), 2000, amended in 2008 is noteworthy here: it says as follows:

6A Delivery of services by service provider. –

(1) The appropriate Government may, for the purposes of this Chapter and for efficient delivery of services to the public through electronic means authorise, by order, any service provider to set-up, maintain and upgrade the computerised facilities and perform such other services as it may specify by notification in the Official Gazette. Explanation. -For the purposes of this section, service provider so authorised includes any individual, private agency, private company, partnership firm, sole proprietor firm or any such other body or agency which has been granted permission by the appropriate Government to offer services through electronic means in accordance with the policy governing such service sector.

(2) The appropriate Government may also authorise any service provider authorised under sub-section (1) to collect, retain and appropriate such service charges, as may be prescribed by the appropriate Government for the purpose of providing such services, from the person availing such service.

(3) Subject to the provisions of sub-section (2), the appropriate Government may authorise the service providers to collect, retain and appropriate service charges under this section notwithstanding the fact that there is no express provision under the Act, rule, regulation or notification under which the service is provided to collect, retain and appropriate e-service charges by the service providers.

(4) The appropriate Government shall, by notification in the Official Gazette, specify the scale of service charges which may be charged and collected by the service providers under this section: Provided that the appropriate Government may specify different scale of service charges for different types of services.


Online transactions for e-commerce purposes are directly connected with the concept of service delivery by service providers. S.6A has got two main component parts: (i) authorization to the service providers by the government to set up provisions for delivery of services in the electronic mode; and (ii) collection of service charges by the service charges. Whenever we get to see a smooth or a bumpy operation of services from the banks or from any other government or corporate authorities, we must know that there is a secret team behind that government department, bank or the corporate authority. They may be independent agencies who are commissioned by such government /bank/corporate authorities. These ‘secret teams’ perform all the technical functions for economic transactions, maintenance of the records for money transactions, maintenance of cyber security issues etc.,  and they are duty bound to not to violate the confidentiality of the user-data. Intact there are layers of contracts between the actual user and the bank/government/company, between such service provider and the actual users and the government etc. We know only the first layer of contracts and agreements between us, the actual users and the bank/government /company etc., who are providing us certain services or even goods. But there are several examples of violating the agreements and contracts. These ‘service providers’ know us more than we know ourselves because they know our bank details, our spending habits and even our location data too.

Considering the risk for breaching of confidentiality in all such cases S.7A of the IT Act, 2000(amended in 2008) has prescribed for auditing of documents etc., maintained in electronic forms. This Section says as follows:

“7A Audit of documents, etc., maintained in electronic form. -Where in any law for the time being in force, there is a provision for audit of documents, records or information, that provision shall also be applicable for audit of documents, records or information processed and maintained in the electronic form.”

But this is hugely neglected by many stakeholders and this loophole creates several data breaching related legal issues. The Indian legislature has also brought in the Intermediary guidelines Rules, 2021 which also shifts the liability for data protection for intermediaries in certain cases.

However, we must not forget that there is digital divide in our societies. Adults including men, women and people belonging to LGBTQ communities may not always access information and digital communication systems and services. This is a universal problem. Women may not be empowered to use electronic devices in socio-economically backward classes and communities. Not to forget that even though Indian constitution mandates for equal pay for all, women may not always get equal pay in unorganized sectors. Many households in India as well as in many Asian countries do not allow women to take any decision related to family-finances.  But there are situations when people are forced to use electronic payment/transaction systems. Covid-19 pandemic is one such situation where the WHO advised to reduce usage of anything which may transmit the viruses from people to people: reduction of usage of currency notes were also suggested as it was understood that the materials in the currency notes may get wet with sweat, saliva etc., and this may be extremely dangerous since it might increase the risk of spreading of pandemic. But there are new researches coming up every day which are suggesting how to take precautions while dealing with papers (including materials which are used to make currency notes) or clothes during pandemic times.

In all such cases, aren’t our constitutional rights get violated if the government or any other stakeholder insists on e-transactions? It actually does.

Answer to this question may be found in S.9 of the IT Act, 2000(amended in 2008). This says as follows:

Sections 6, 7 and 8 not to confer right to insist document should be accepted in electronic form.-Nothing contained in sections 6, 7 and 8 shall confer a right upon any person to insist that any Ministry or Department of the Central Government or the State Government or any authority or body established by or under any law or controlled or funded by the Central or State Government should accept, issue, create, retain and preserve any document in the form of electronic records or effect any monetary transaction in the electronic form.

Nonetheless, the above mentioned provision empowers all who may not be able to use or who may want to refuse the use of electronic payment system. But this may not always be considered as the Rule: this is rather Exceptio probat regulam (an exception proves the rule) in the era of internet. Even though the government and other corporate stakeholders may extend their services on humanitarian grounds to help those who may not be able to use the digital payment systems or the e-wallets etc., people’s trust may easily be broken by gross misuse of the powers that such ‘helpers’ may have: ATM debit cards may be stolen, data may be compromised, e-wallets may be illegally operated by such ‘volunteers’ who may want to gain illegal and unethical profits at the cost of innocent people.

It will take longer time to make people from all backgrounds aware about electronic payment modes. It will probably take even longer to control cyber criminality targeting vulnerable people. One must not violate the legal norms and constitutional principles to make the right to life of others almost unachievable. Vulnerable groups including senior citizens, disabled people, socio-economically backward communities, women and children must be given enough protection to gain their trust so that all can survive and win over adverse situations.

Please note: Please  do not violate the copyright of this writeup. Please site it as Halder Debarati (2021) Is using electronic payment mode mandatory?  Published @ https://debaraticyberspace.blogspot.com/2021/04/is-using-electronic-payment-mode.html on 22-04-2021