India May Be A Hub For Institutional Arbitration And ODR Soon

For long some Asian countries have dominated the space of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and India could not perform well on this front despite a sound judicial system and qualified lawyers and Arbitrators. There are many reason why India could not excel in ADR field. The chief among them is that there is very little focus upon institutional arbitration in India and a majority of arbitration proceeding in India are managed at individual level. We are not saying that there are no institutional arbitration centres in India. What we are saying is that these institutions failed to create confidence among global stakeholders that institutional arbitration can be managed in India with qualitative results.

There was a policy vaccum in this regard until the Modi Government took a bold step in 2019. It enacted The New Delhi International Arbitration Centre Ordinance, 2019 and later on converted it into The New Delhi International Arbitration Centre Act, 2019 (Pdf). So now we have a policy and regulatory framework that is promoting, regulating and encouraging institutional arbitration in India, along with many more pro active policies and decisions. Now the next logical step of Indian Government should be to encourage Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) in India on a Public Private partnership (PPP) model.

So how is Indian Government promoting ODR and LegalTech projects in India? It is doing that in a style and very encouraging manner i.e. by recognising LegalTech entities like TeleLaw Private Limited (TPL), PTLB Projects LLP, etc as startups. For instance, both TPL and PTLB Projects have been recognised as technology and LegalTech startups by Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) and MeitY Startup Hub. In fact, the Resolve Without Litigation (RWL), which is a project managed by both TPL and PTLB Projects, has been separately recognised as a LegalTech and tech startup by MeitY. So Government is encouraging private entities to work upon LegalTech and technology driven solutions and may join the journey at a later stage.

We request Indian Government to support us in the fields of institutional arbitration and ODR. We have launched the TPL and PTLB Projects startups with the aim to make India a Global Hub for ODR and Techno Legal Services. But for that we need active support of Indian Government, Indian Companies and Indian investors. Let us together create the history in the field of ODR.

The New Delhi International Arbitration Centre Ordinance, 2019

Update: India has enacted The New Delhi International Arbitration Centre Act, 2019 (Pdf) and now the Ordinance is an enforceable law of India.

The New Delhi International Arbitration Centre Ordinance, 2019 was promulgated by President of India on March 2, 2019. Among other things, It seeks to establish an independent and autonomous regime for institutionalised arbitration in India. Indian government is planning to make the New Delhi International Arbitration Centre (NDIAC) a hub for institutional arbitration in India. The government has also decided to declare NDIAC to be an institution of national importance.

Previously, the New Delhi International Arbitration Centre Bill, 2018 was passed by Lok Sabha on 04-01-2019. However, the Bill is yet to be passed by the Rajya Sabha and it will lapse with the dissolution of the current Lok Sabha/Parliament.

As the Parliament of India is currently not in sessions, the President of India was satisfied that circumstances exist which render it necessary for him to take immediate action. By exercising the powers vested in him by Article 123(1) of Constitution of India, the President deemed it fit to promulgate the ordinance.

As the Ordinance also mandated transfer of assets of International Centre for Alternative Dispute Resolution (ICADR) to NDIAC, a notification to this effect was issued by the central government. But a case was filed before the Delhi High Court challenging that notification. The Delhi High Court stayed the notification by central government for transfer of assets in favour of NDIAC for the time being and asked the central government to file its response. However, in all probability the Ordinance would remain valid and would become a law once the new Parliament is constituted.

Update 16-05-2019: As expected, the Delhi High Court has lifted the stay (Pdf) on 16-05-2019 and soon the control of ICADR would be in the hands of Central Government. This is the right decision and we welcome the same. 

We at Resolve Without Litigation (RWL) welcome this Ordinance as it is the first step to make India a premier destination for institutional arbitration and institutional ODR. However, much has to be done as stakeholders in India are not only slow in taking necessary steps but they are also averse to adoption of technology for dispute resolution purposes.

Some of the salient features of the Ordinance are:

(1) NDIAC has been constituted as a body corporate with similar rights and liabilities as a body corporate,

(2) NDIAC has been declared as an institution of national importance.

(3) The head office of NDIAC shall be at New Delhi and it may, with prior approval of Central Government, establish branches at other places in India and abroad,

(4) All possible moveable and immovable properties, including proprietary rights therein, of ICADR shall be transferred to NDIAC. Delhi High Court is presently seized with a litigation in this regard between ICADR  and Central Government,

(5) The objects of NDIAC are:

(a) To bring targeted reforms to develop itself as a flagship institution for conducting international and domestic arbitration

(b) To provide facilities and administrative assistance for conciliation mediation and arbitral proceedings;

(c) To maintain panels of accredited arbitrators, conciliators and mediators both at national and international level or specialists such as surveyors and investigators;

(d) To facilitate conducting of international and domestic arbitrations and conciliation in the most professional manner;

(e) To provide cost effective and timely services for the conduct of arbitrations and conciliations at Domestic and International level;

(f) To promote studies in the field of alternative dispute resolution and related matters, and to promote reforms in the system of settlement of disputes;

(g) To co-operate with other societies, institutions and organisations, national or international for promoting alternative dispute resolution, etc.

(6) NDIAC may constitute such committees as may be considered necessary to administer various aspects of its functions,

(7) There shall be a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NDIAC who shall be responsible for day-to-day administration of the Centre,

(8) The NDIAC shall establish a Chamber of Arbitration which shall empanel the Arbitrators and also scrutinise the applications for admission in the panel of reputed arbitrators to maintain a permanent panel of arbitrators,

(9) The NDIAC may establish an Arbitration Academy to train the Arbitrators, to conduct research in ADR and allied fields, to give suggestions for achieving the objectives of the Ordinance, etc,

These are good provisions but they are still cautious in nature. Indian government is still not confident that it can establish world class online dispute resolution (ODR) institutions in India. The main focus of the Ordinance is to make traditional Arbitration more effective and unless the NDIAC is tech oriented, this would remain the situation says Praveen Dalal.

ICADR failed for this reason and even NDIAC may face similar fate unless government is pro active and start using techno legal expertise of platforms like Resolve Without Litigation (RWL).

Resolve Without Litigation (RWL) Has Rejuvenated Its ODR Discussion Forum

We first discussed about online dispute resolution (ODR) in 2004 and ironically it was an international platform where we shared our views. That is because in 2004 ODR was not known in India except among a very limited number of people.

We waited up to 2010 and the position remained same. That is the year when PTLB launched a Blog titled Techno Legal Online Dispute Resolution Services outlining our unique and exclusive techno legal ODR services. We managed this service through the website of Perry4Law and simultaneously opened the ODR blog to spread awareness about ODR in India.

In 2012 we launched a dedicated website on online dispute resolution (ODR) in India and since then we have launched many ODR projects each with different objective and purpose. We also launched India’s exclusive ODR discussion forum in 2012 and we have been continuously updating it from time to time. In the latest initiative, we have completely rejuvenated the ODR discussion forum.

However, the moment it was updated and rejuvenated we were flooded with spam accounts. First we disabled self registration process for our forum and made the registration subject to administrator’s approval. But the spam accounts kept on increasing and even if they were subject to our approval they kept on clogging our resources. After much deliberation, we completely disabled registration process and now registration at our forum is based on “invitation” or “request” basis.

We understand that this would make the forum unavailable to general public but we are preparing for the larger event that would make India a hub for institutionalised arbitration and institutionalised ODR destination. We apologise for this inconvenience but we welcome national and international stakeholders working in the field of ODR to register at our forum. They can contact us at this blog or at Twitter handles of @_PTLB, @RWLIndia, @DigitalIndiaLaw, etc.

If you are an ODR expert empanelled at the portal of RWL, you can request for your account registration at ODR forum of RWL while submitting your empanelment application.

To know what type of discussion we would have on the ODR forum, please see the Guide that we have created for our users that they can use to get justice within 2-5 minutes of their time.

As we have a target of making India a hub for international commercial arbitration, institutionalised arbitration, ADR and ODR training, institutionalised ODR leader, etc, we intend to work very seriously and very hard on the forum and other portals. If you are following our tweets at Twitter, you can get all the information that can be really beneficial for you and your organisation.

With this article we are now working to fill the ODR forum with information that would be unique and of tremendous value to national and international stakeholders.

Thanks for your patience and time.

How To Enroll As A Panelist For ODR Portal Of Resolve Without Litigation (RWL)

Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) is an area that is still not fully accepted and utilised world over. As far as India is concerned, ODR processes and systems are not only absent but they receive hostile treatment from Indian government and its agencies/departments. Indian government talk about making India a hub for global online companies and portals but at the same time is killing every possible technology driven project that is putting India on the world map. Naturally, we have no world class Indian company or technology project despite the fact that we introduced ODR in India in 2004.

Our journey for ODR took a decisive turn in 2010 onwards when we launched techno legal ODR portals, public awareness blogs and ODR training portal. However, as the awareness about ODR has been low and Indian government is not inclined to use the advantage of already existing projects of PTLB and Resolve Without Litigation (RWL), ODR remained a low priority for India.

But we at RWL have decided that in the year 2019 we would make India a hub for ODR irrespective of Indian government’s lack of support and active opposition. As our activities are increasing, alternative dispute resolution (ADR) stakeholders have started approaching us for colloboration and other professional alliances. National and international stakeholders are also approaching us to get their disputes resolved using our Pro Bono ODR Portal. Every dispute is of top priority to us and that is why we have drafted a Guide so that national and international stakeholders can start their dispute resolution process in just under 5 minute time.

We are not aiming for something that is basic as with 15 years of active experience that would not be the right strategy. We at RWL intend to make India a hub for Institutionalised Arbitration and Institutionalised ODR destination. We are currently working in this field and that is why we are not in a position to respond back to individual partnership offers, investments and angel investment offers, empanelment requests, etc.

We are in receipt of these communications and please note that all these communications have been put in file in order in which they have been received. We take every single communication with us very seriously. We do not neglect and would never ignore these precious offers and communications. We request national and international stakeholders to please bear with us till we come up with individual and customised replies to all the communications received by us.

RWL is currently in talks with national and international organisations to facilitate and encourage use of technology dispute resolutions and ODR in India and world wide. RWL is looking forward for active national and international collaborations in this regard. Interested national and international organisations may contact us with their proposals in this regard. As we do not wish to miss even a single communication, we request the stakeholders to contact us simultaneously at our Twitter handles at @RWLIndia, @_PTLB, @DigitalIndiaLaw, Etc.

As the empanelment requests are pouring in great numbers and we cannot respond back individually to each such request, we have written this article as a guidance and compliance note. All empanellment requests would be entertained only if they comply with the requirements mentioned in this article.

Arbitrators, Lawyers, Mediators, Conciliators, ODR experts, Neutrals, etc that wish to work in association with PTLB may empanel with it. Interested individuals must meet the prescribed procedure in order to be empanelled with PTLB.

A minimum five years experience in arbitration matters is required to be empanelled with PTLB. The empanelment would be for minimum of one year (1) and maximum of five (5) years. The empanelment may be renewed at the discretion of PTLB and RWL. The requisite Performa for Individuals can be downloaded from “Here” (Doc). The Firms, Companies, Institutions, etc can download the Performa from “Here” (Doc).

PTLB and RWL have the sole discretion to accept or reject the empanelment requests. It would be better if applicants seek an opinion of PTLB or RWL in this regard well in advance through an e-mail. Please do not remit any fees or money till a positive confirmation is given by PTLB Or RWL for the possible inclusion of the applicant as a panelist. Applicants are strongly advised to go through the “Empanelment Procedures” before applying.

We hope this article would be helpful to all national and international ADR/ODR professionals who are interested in joining our portal and ODR services.

Please note that we maintain a “Seniority List” of our Panelists based on the first year of enrollment with us. We may only be able to accomodate limited number of Panelists for our present RWL project. We would close the empanellment procedure once required number of Panelists are enrolled. Senior Panelists have certain advantages as compared to junior members that would be discussed by us in our subsequent posts.

We welcome all who are eligible to join our portal and wish all the best to those who may be eligible in future as no ODR professional would be left by us ultimately. We would accomodate them in another ODR project of PTLB in future.

Thanks for your interest in our ODR projects.

Support Access To Justice Project Of Resolve Without Litigation (RWL)

Access to justice and judicial reforms are on the agenda of Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO) since 2004. In order to achieve the same we introduced many innovative techno legal projects. One of such projects is Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) upon which we have been working since 2004. In order to ensure access to justice for people of India we launched two seperate ODR portals.

The first one is a Pro Bono ODR Portal that was launched few years back. It has fought for the rights and justice of many Indians. In continuation of our efforts, we have also drafted a Guide for national and international stakeholders. As per this initiative, it only takes 5 minutes to get access to justice to any stakeholder from any part of the world that too free of cost.

However, for reasons unknown, government departments like CGPDTM India are trying to kill this innovative project. We have already brought this fact within the knowledge of Shri. Suresh Prabhu, DIPP, etc but so far no investigation has been undertaken by Narendra Modi government in this regard.

We are not only fighting against this strange act of BJP government but are also trying to ascertain why CGPDTM India did this at the first place. Irrespective of whatever happens to the Trademark of Resolve Without Litigation (RWL) and other projects, access to justice and empowerment of national and international stakeholders would not stop.

We request national and international stakeholders to support our access to justice project so that Human Rights and other rights of stakeholders cannot be compromised at the mere wish of government.

We are not requesting any monetray help but do expect national and international stakeholders to use this Pro Bono ODR Portal and do not allow government to compromise their rights. Of course, any absolutely voluntary donation is most welcome as per these terms.

Resolve Without Litigation Your Disputes From Any Part Of The World

Disputes are not desirable but yet they do happen in every walk of the life. We have many options to resolve these disputes and approaching a  court is the last option. But for many people this is the first option and this is a wrong strategy on their part. By approaching the courts at the first place we are over burdening them unnecessarily when these disputes can be resolved outside the court. The over burderned courts  would have no choice but to give lengthy dates as there is no way a handful of judges in Indian courts can handle such impossible target.

This mindset is not a problem of ordinary people but our state governments and central government too. A big chunk of litigation in courts is  from government departments. State governments and central govt are notorious for not only denying remedies to citizens at the first place but they also keep on appealing against adverse orders against them to higher courts. So not only original cases but also appeals from the  adverse orders against state governments and central government are increasing burden upon Indian courts.

We at Perry4Law Techno Legal Base (PTLB) have been working in the fields like online dispute resolution (ODR) and e-courts since 2004. We have launched few techhno legal fields in both ODR and e-courts fields. We understand the significance of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) very well. We also understand how technology can be used to strengthen ADR in India by converting traditional ADR into ODR.

As the field is new, some sort of confusion and uncertainty is natural. That is why we launched two different online portals on ODR for world wide stakeholders. The first one is a Pro Bono Platform where we are helping people to not only understand useage of ODR but also  helping them free of cost. Stakeholders can see this Guide so that they can best use our Pro Bono ODR portal.

The second platform is a professional one where our clients and big companies can avail our techno legal services on a regular and professional basis. All they need to do is to use our ODR clause in their agreements. If both the parties agree, they can also use our ODR portal without any agreement if they agree to our ODR clause at any stage of the dispute. The process is simple and very effective.

Now comes the best part. Some of the unique features of our ODR portal are:

(1) Our ODR services are available throughout the world and even if parties to the dispute reside in different countries.

(2) It is not mandatory that the dispute must be an Indian dispute but any dispute in any part of the world can be resolved using our portal if the same can be resolved using mediation, conciliation, arbitration or ODR as per the laws of respective countries.

(3) Our ODR services can be used at any stage of the dispute even if there is no pre existing ODR clause. Such an ODR agreement can be formed by simply accepting our ODR clause by parties to the dispute.

(4) Parties to the dispute need not to move even out 0f their homes to avail our ODR services. So travelling expenses and travelling time is totally saved.

(5) All required documents can be shared with us through the online portal, secure e-mail, secured chats, etc. No cost for sending documents through post would be incurred.

(6) We are the only techno legal Institutionalised Arbitration Centre that is dealing in ODR world wide.

If any company or government department wishes to have training about how to best use our ODR services, we can also ensure the same.

If Indian government is serious about better access to justice and ensuring justice for all, we are more than happy to have a colloboration with it. We are also open to colloborations with foreign governments and international organisations if they have similar projects or wish to expand their existing dispute resolution capacities.

We may update this article with more information and details for the larger benefit of all. Please visit regularly this blog in general and our ODR portals in particular for latest developments of our projects.

Source: E-Courts 4 Justice (EC4J).

Indian Domain Name Registrars Are Defeating Digital India And Startup India Initiatives

 

3D Man trying to climb wall

Update: We thanks InRegistry, MeitY And Net4India For their timely resolution of the issue. The issue stands resolved as on 28-04-2018.

Digital India and Startup India are two of the most prominent flagship projects of Indian Government. InRegistry And NIXI are promoting .in domain names as the base for Digital India and Startup India projects. They have reason to do so but their efforts are continuously jeopardised by Indian registrars like Net4India.

Net4India has a very unprofessional approach towards its customers. It keeps on harassing them and instead of providing solutions create more troubles and hurdles before them. Recently we had a stint with Net4India and we decided enough is enough. Someone has to take a stand against the unprofessional environment created by registrars like Net4India.

It all started when Net4India provided a branch address where people can communicate and send their communications and letters. We placed a renewal order for domain names odrindia.in and electroniccourts.in and for renewal of hosting for another domain ptlb.in. As you can see there are three .in domains involved in this renewal order. We dispatched the cheque for renewal order through Trackon courier on 19-04-2018. We also kept on asking Net4India to renew our domains and hosting as the consumer empowerment portal of Resolve Without Litigation (RWL) was one of the domains that went down due to policies of Net4India.

However, our domains were not renewed by Net4India even on 25-04-2018 and on further communication Net4India even threatened to put our .in domains in “redemption period”. Frustrated with the non renewal of our domains, we decided to conduct an investigation on two fronts. We first picked Trackon and after initial investigation we came to know that Trackon was unable to deliver our courier to Net4India as its office at the specified address was permanently closed. We asked Net4India about this aspect but Net4India flatly refused closing of its branch office. In fact, an executive of Net4India even claimed that the branch office remains open all days during the office hours.

Till now it was clear that either Net4India or Trackon was lying. So we started a detailed investigation with Trackon and after getting all the details were convinced that Trackon was right in its claim. The desginated office was always closed. With this information in hand, we asked Net4India to give in writing that its specified office is a valid place for business and services. The executive at Net4India promised to do the same but she deliberately refrained from doing so.

We were facing similar problems with Net4India at its Sarita Vihar office in the past from where couriers and speed posts were always returned back and we were regularly sending the couriers at the Noida branch address that was the last known branch office address of Net4India. There was no problem with the Noida address and it was working fine but changing it to 139-A-1 S/F Mohammadpur, New Delhi 110066, India created the real problem. Any reasonable person would expect in these circumstances that the Noida arrangement would also apply to Mohammadpur address and we send the courier to Mohammadpur address that was claimed to be fully operational by Net4India till last moment.

Realising a legal action, a senior executive of Net4India placed a call and claimed that the Mohammadpur address was a bug issue in the website and claimed that Sarita Vihar address has been substituted with the Mohammadpur address. He was not aware that courier and speed posts are not accepted at Sarita Vihar addres for years. Net4India also refused to pick up the renewal cheque from our residence that meanwhile returned back and insisted that a fresh courier should be dispatched at Sarita Vihar address not knowing that such fresh courier would never be delivered at Sarita Vihar address.

At this stage we involved InRegistry and NIXI in the loop and submitted all the documents that clearly proved our version and also proved negligence, mala fide intentions and cyber contraventions by Net4India. We demanded unconditional and instataneous renewal of our domains and hosting services and a compensation of Rs. 5,00,000 (Five Lakh) for mental harrassment, agony and cyber contravention committed by Net4India under Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act, 2000). As InRegistry and NIXI were slow in responding, we also involved the Secretary of MeitY and the Minsiter Of MeitY Shri. R.S. Prasad. Now we are pursuing the matter further so that it can reach a logical conclusion.

But one thing is for sure. The suggestion of InRegistry and NIXI to use .in domain names and Indian registrars is a big trap and a sure shot method to defeat Digital India and Startup India projects of Indian government. Foreign domain names and registrars are much more professional and law compliant than registrars like Net4India. So if you plan to purchase a domain name, do not go for an .in domain name and Indian hosting and Indian registrar as your full fledged projects can be destroyed within seconds and InRegistry, NIXI and MeitY would do nothing.

We would update our viewers from time to time in this regard and would also upload the documents at this article so that negligence, mala fide intentions and cyber contraventions by Net4India can be known to world at large. Any remedy or action by InRegistry, NIXI and MeitY would also be discussed by us.

An Open Letter To DoT And TRAI For Their Inaction Against Aircel Despite Clear Evidence

Till now everybody is aware of the Aircel fiasco from which Aircel employees and its customers are suffering. This is the first time that a telecom company has unilaterally decided to disrupt its networks and forced retrenched its employees. The position of Aircel employees and its customers is worst possible as they are not getting any justice and remedy from government side.

we at PTLB are trying really hard to ensure justice to Aircel employees and its customers. We are strengthening access to justice and justice for all when our own Department of Telecommunication (DoT) and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) have failed to take a concrete action against Aircel.

However, we sincerely appreciate the help of top brass of Central Government for accepting our request to ensure salary payment of Aircel employees and temporary restoration of operations of Aircel.

We have also requested the Central Government that if government is interested in revival of Aircel, it may consider extending the carrier support of MTNL and BSNL at appropriate circles. Both MTNL and BSNL can help in managing the network coverage for Aircel on temporary basis.

We are posting regular updates about the Aircel issue and stakeholders interested in this aspect may follow this thread at twitter. While DoT and TRAI are still engaging in red tape behavior yet we are sure that top brass would help us again in this regard. Handle @_PTLB has already escalated this issue to the top brass.

Here is the open letter that PTLB has sent to top brass, DoT, TRAI, etc:

“Dear Sir/Madam

Thanks for the mail. We would surely do the needful, if needed.

But we have our own dispute resolution and grievance handling platform that is helping both national and international stakeholders for various matters. This ticket has been generated using the same.

Further, if we are truly following a good governance model, we should not be rigid about procedures and formalities. You have sufficient details and information about the grievance that is otherwise also available through media and newspapers.

How would we lead by example if we fail at this basic test of Digital India? Our platform has helped many consumers of Aircel and other telecom services providers and we are doing it as part of our social legal obligation and free of cost.

You are requested to update us about the action that you have already taken or you propose to take against Aircel for illegal network disruptions.

As you have sufficient and actual knowledge of the issue, we expect an early response and resolution from your side now. Please do not send us the scripted reply anymore and take some concrete action.

We have already covered this issue and would also update the same very soon.

This communication would also be posted as an open letter on our portal(s) so that customers would be able to get first hand information about acts or omissions of your esteemed departments.

Thanks in anticipation.

Regards

PTLB”

We hope the Central Government would consider the case of Aircel employees and customers with sympathy and compassion.

PTLB Is Strengthening Access To Justice And Justice To All When DoT And TRAI Failed To Do So

Update: See the open letter by @_PTLB to Department of Telecommunication (DoT) and TRAI in this regard on 03-04-2018.

Aircel was one of the best telecom service providers in India so far. However, in the mid of February 2018, Aircel suddenly stopped giving services to customers in almost all of the States in India. At that time Aircel was contemplating filing of bankruptcy petition after changing its board of director composition but it kept that information secret. To keep its customers occupied, Aircel lied to them about technical problems. But very soon its intentions to file a bankruptcy petition were made public and a bankruptcy petition was filed by Aircel.

The National Company Law Tribunal’s Mumbai bench will hear on March 8 Aircel’s plea for bankruptcy protection under Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016. Aircel, running a debt of Rs 15,500 crore to lenders, besides thousands of crores to operational creditors, sought an urgent hearing on the matter, saying it needs to resume operations. This is natural as well and the NCLT would hear Aircel bankruptcy plea on March 8, 2018.

This bankruptcy proceeding is not within the purview of this article and we at PTLB are with Aircel in its hard times. But we strongly condemn the deceptive behavior of Aircel through which it misled its customers in India. This article intends to make public aware about the sad condition of consumer rights that are openly violated in India and authorities like Department of Telecommunication (DoT), Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), etc remain moot spectators.

We at Perry4Law Techno Legal Base (PTLB) are managing few techno legal projects that are ensuring access to justice and justice to all in India, especially for the marginalised segments. These include projects like E-Courts 4 Justice (EC4J), Resolve Without Litigation (RWL), etc. To spread public awareness and to make Indians sufficiently trained to use these services, we have opened a training cum awareness platform. The same is known Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) And Cyber Arbitration Platform. Here any person can open a dispute resolution ticket and we at PTLB fight for such person to strengthen justice for all in India.

As the problem of Aircel created all India ramifications and we were also affected by it, we created a ticket at ODR platform of PTLB. DoT, TRAI, etc were made parties to the same and a grievance was lodged with government department/authorities. This was done as both DoT and TRAI failed to comply with its legal obligations and protect consumer rights of telecom customers of Aircel.

One may ask why we need DoT and TRAI at all if they cannot perform simple task of protecting interests of telecom customers. Indian government is boasting about mobile manufacturing capabilities of India but what would we do without mobile connectivity and broadband facilities. Digital India is a complete failure has been sufficiently proved by Aircel fiasco. This also proved that India cannot rely upon telecom services for its disaster management activities. A first responder relies heavily upon telecommunication and Aircel fiasco has proved that Indian crisis management and disaster reliefs is in doldrums.

We initially decided not to write this article but both DoT and TRAI forced us to write it. We would update all about any development regarding Aircel fiasco. For the time being, we are sending regular reminders to both DoT and TRAI. While DoT is simply forwarding tweet grievances to concerned TSP, TRAI is following its trademark style of remaining deaf, dumb and blind.

Forwarding of tweets by DoT is proving to be the counterpart of sending an aggrieved person from one desk to another in a typical government office of India. But patience of public is running out and some have decided to block roads to protest against Aircel blackout. This seems to be appropriate as well when DoT and TRAI are not willing to take any action against Aircel and Aircel is not making any commitment to restore services.

We would update all in this regard very soon.

How To Safeguard Your Bank Accounts And Money From Phishing Attacks

Digital payments provide mobility to our money and comfort to us. At the same time, money stored in the form of digital payments or online payment mechanisms are also vulnerable to sophisticated social engineering and cyber crime attacks. Phishing attacks are one such form of cyber attacks that target innocent people and make them disclose sensitive information and details. These details include passwords, PIN number, one time password (OTP), etc and once these details are obtained, withdrawing money from credit cards or online banking is very easy.

We at Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO) And Resolve Without Litigation (RWL) are frequently approached regarding credit card frauds and cyber crimes related issues. We are presently dealing with cases of credit card fraud at State Bank of India (SBI) and phishing attack involving income tax refund. Through this post I am trying to raise some public awareness about the increasing menace of phishing in India.

Phishing is a popular method of social engineering in which cyber criminals use their persuasive power to trap gullible people and make them disclose the information that is crucial for withdrawal of money. For instance, once PIN or password is known, it is a piece of cake to withdraw money. In this post I would confine myself to phishing attack case as PTLB is handling the credit card fraud case.

It all started when TLCEODRI, an alert administrator of RWL India, caught the suspicious phishing attack on the early stage of its execution on 03-01-2018. However, action by user was not taken till 05-01-2018 and on that date the cyber criminal tried to withdraw Rs. 20,000. But the alert customer had already blocked the access to her Airtel money account and this saved her money. The ticket was created on 05-01-2018 and we are pursuing the case with Income Tax Department, Revenue Department, Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), etc at the time of this article.

I gave the following interim suggestions in the meanwhile to safeguard her interest in best possible manner:

(1) Block all payments from all banks that are involved till you give further instructions to such banks,

(2) Change PIN/Password of all ATM/Debit/Credit cards immediately,

(3) Deactivate all Aadhaar payment systems, if any, temporarily,

(4) Most important, do not share any OTP sent to your mobile phone, and

(5) Register a mobile with your bank account(s) for record of debit/credit transactions.

Thereafter, we were informed that the cyber criminals are using e-mail spoofing by giving the address noreply (at)incometaxindiaefiling (dot)com. But once clicked, it takes you to a private domain name. This is what I suspected at the first instance and that is why I requested for the sender’s e-mail id once the reply button is clicked.

I also believe that the cyber criminals must have persuaded the victim to click on the web link purporting to be from Income tax Department’s website. Once clicked by the victim, it took the victim to an identical or fake website or webpage that is a clever and close imitation of the original website. Victims generally do not pay much attention and take the fake website to be real and submit all the information. This is how the password, PIN, etc were stolen from the victim in the present case. Nevertheless the final step of getting the OTP from the victim was still to be executed.

But what is interesting is the statement that the cyber criminals are trying to hack the mobile of phishing victim. This is natural as well as the OTP that would be sent to the registered mobile number is last defense for her and once that is compromised, money can be withdrawn easily. I reiterated the suggestion of not sharing the OTP with anybody.

Update 1: She received the second phishing e-mail with a different amount from the cyber criminals.

Update 2: She received 3 SMS notification from Idea AD-Verify as the cyber criminals are trying everything to get the money. They even tried to install a malware on her phone to steal the OTP necessary for completion of the online transactions.

At the time of writing of this article, no communication from the government departments has been received and I would update about this as soon as I get some information.

Update 1: We received an e-mail from Web Manager, Income Tax Department. He guided the tax payer to contact her Ward/Circle Jurisdictional Assessing Officer. We also added the e-mail id suggested by the Web Manager and included the Jurisdictional Assessing Officer in the communication/ticket. Any further response would be updated here and at my Twitter handle.

But what if after becoming a victim of phishing attack, the money is already withdrawn? For such victims, PTLB has already shared a very good article mentioning the legal rights and obligations of bank customers in such cases. The article covers not only phishing attacks and cyber crimes but also liability of banks for not managing a robust and resilient cyber security infrastructure. So if a bank customer can prove that bank failed to ensure robust privacy and data protection or cyber security, banks would be liable for all monetary losses.

I wish to discuss another related issue. What if such an event happens with any account linked to Aadhaar or such cyber crime happens due to Aadhaar? Well the answer to this question is simple. Aadhaar or no Aadhaar, liability of bank remains same. The Aadhaar Act, 2016 has in no way changed this position. So do not be fooled into thinking that for Aadhaar frauds and thefts you have no remedy. See this tweet of Praveen Dalal in this regard.

Also See: Aadhaar Act, 2016 Does Not Bar A Person To Sue UIDAI Or Private Companies Opines Praveen Dalal.

Be an informed customer and enforce your rights against banks, financial institutions, etc. If nobody is listening to you, we would love to help you. All you are required to do is to create a ticket at the platform of RWL India. But we have some conditions regarding Aadhaar for people who have not complied with our forms submission deadlines. Just keep that is mind and also see how we can best help you in your disputes and grievances. Once that is done, you can consider us as your friend and we would agitate on your behalf.