Fake Government Website

Recently, website with the URL address www.rvk.net.in, surfaced up in the cyberspace which claims itself to be the website of the “Rashtriya Vigyan Kendra” (which translates to national science centre) a Government Enterprise with Lucknow address. The said website contains the photos of the of former President Shri APJ Abdul Kalam and Prime Minister Shri Manmohan Singh on the home page to give it a legitimate look of a government website. Further, the fraudsters operating the said fake website have also advertised jobs in local newspapers in Uttarpradesh and neighboring Uttarakhand. The website also contains advertisements for jobs. The job aspirants were told to send the draft for the application fee for the jobs advertised and many of them did send the drafts, on an average, 250 drafts are being sent a day to the Lucknow address given in the advertisement, as per the newspaper report. It would be pertinent to mention here that National Science Centre is a constituent unit of the National Council of Science Museums (NCSM) which is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Culture of the Government of India. The National Science Centre has its own website having URL address, www.nscdelhi.org. The fraudsters have used the translated Hindi version of National Science Centre and used it for their fake website to give it a legitimate look. The comparison of the fake website reveals that some of the content in the fake website has been lifted verbatim from the website of Nehru Science Centre Mumbai whose URL was http://www.nehrusciencecentre.org/gen_info.htm

The aforesaid criminal act of the fraudsters in operating fake website in the name of the Government of India and luring the innocent general public to apply for the jobs so that they send the drafts for the so called fake jobs created by the fraudsters attracts the provisions of the Indian Penal Code and Information Technology Act, 2000.

Applicable Section of Indian Penal Code

Section 420 IPC: Cheating and thereby dishonestly inducing the general public by creating fake government website so as to induce them to deliver the demand drafts to the accused persons.

Section 468 IPC: Forgery of the website which is an electronic record to be used for the purpose of cheating.

Section 471 IPC: Using the as genuine the forged website which the accused knew to be forged.

Applicable Section of Information Technology Act, 2000:

Section 66C: Punishment for identity theft: The fraudsters have fraudulently or dishonestly make use of the Hindi translated version of National Science Centre, an GOI organization for their fake website.

Section 66D: Punishment for cheating by personation by using computer resource: The fraudsters have by means of the fake website have personated the National Science Centre, a GOI organization have cheated the general public.

Therefore, the accused persons can be booked under the aforesaid sections of IPC and IT Act, 2000.

Blocking of the fake website-Can be blocked invoking the provision of 69A IT Act: The fake website www.rvk.net.in can be blocked / banned by invoking the Section 69A of the Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008 read with the Information Technology (Procedures and safeguards for Blocking of Access of Information by Public) Rules 2009. While the newly inserted Section 69A empowers the designated government authority to direct any agency of the government or Intermediary to block any website or transmission of any information to be accessed by the general public. The blocking order can be issued by the designated government authority in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, defense of India, security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence. The Information Technology (Procedures and safeguards for Blocking of Access of Information by Public) Rules 2009 as the name suggests lays down the procedures, guidelines for blocking of the website or information generated, transmitted via internet for the general public. The rule makes provision for designated officer not below the rank of Joint Secretary who shall be designated by the central government for the purpose of issuing direction for blocking for access by the public any objectionable website. As per the said rules the general public cannot make complaint directly to the designated officer who shall act only on the complaint received by either the Nodal officer to be nominated by each government organization or the competent court. The rule makes provision for the establishment of the committee comprising of the designated officer as its chairman, and representatives (not below the rank of Joint Secretary) from the Ministry of Law & Justice, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting and Indian Computer Emergency Response Team. The committee shall examine the complaint along with the contents of the objectionable website, information etc. The committee would also send notice to the intermediary or person in possession of the computer resource hosting the objectionable content and give them an opportunity of making a representation and finally would make its recommendation to the to the Secretary, Department of Information Technology, Ministry of Communications & Information Technology, Government of India. If the recommendation of the committee is approved by the Secretary DIT, the designated officer shall direct any agency of the Government or the intermediary to block the offending information generated, transmitted, hosted etc. in their computer resource for public access with the stipulated time as mentioned in the said direction. The provision also provides for the blocking of information in case of emergency in which delay cannot be tolerated and in such a situation the right of the intermediary to make a representation before the committee is done away with, which means that in such an emergency situation the designated officer can block the offending content. However, in this case also the committee after blocking the website has to make recommendation (for blocking) to the Secretary DIT which can accept the recommendation or reject it in which case the intermediary can unblock the information which was temporarily blocked by the order of the designating officer. The format of the complaint is given in the aforesaid rules. The concerned National Science Centre can make a complaint to the Designated officer for blocking of the fake website.


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