After the Suhas Katti case in which Naavi contributed significantly with the Section 65B certified evidence another notable contribution to the Cyber Jurisprudence from Naavi was the case of S Umashankar Vs ICICI Bank which was the first case of adjudication in which a Bank was held liable for Phishing.
This adjudication happened in Chennai where the adjudicator ordered payment of the entire amount lost by the client along with interest and damages. The amount lost by the victim was about Rs 646000/- . Naavi represented the victim through a Power of attorney and fought the case since 2008 till 2022 through the Adjudicator, Cyber Appellate Tribunal, TDSAT and finally the Madras High Court. In the Adjudication and the Cyber Appellate Tribunal as well as the TDSAT, Naavi argued on behalf of the victim and brought to discussion many aspects of law such as the “Non Use of Digital Signatures”, ” Non Use of Adaptive authentication”, “Lack of KYC at the destination Bank”, “Failure to pursue the Police Complaint”, “Appropriation of proceeds for over draft”, ” Erasure of CCTV footage”, “Proximate cause of fraud”, “Liability in case of multiple negligence” etc and contended that there was gross negligence amounting to abetment and passive assistance to crime.
The Adjudicator and the TDSAT gave speaking orders highlighting the negligence of ICICI Bank and ordered payment of compensation to the victim. The Cyber Appellate Tribunal where trial was held for 3 years did not give its judgement and was merged with TDSAT.
The Bank filed an appeal in Madras High Court where Naavi assisted the Court along with an advocate and the appeal was dismissed. Though the technical possibility of a further appeal does exist, the 14 year fight was a personal mission for Naavi to prove that Phishing liability must be boarne by the Bank.
During these years, Naavi raised objections on an attempt made by the Bank to get a favourable RBI decision from one of the committees namely Gopalakrishna committee and ensured that intended recommendations of the committee which would have created difficulties for the victims of Bank frauds were dropped. Finally when RBI came up with a “Zero Liability scheme” it was a vindication of the long efforts of Naavi to make digital banking safer.
Both Suhas Katti case and Umashankar cases are cases which are topics on which examination questions have been set in premier law colleges in law exams.
The judgement copies are available below:
- Adjudication award from Adjudicator of Tamil Nadu
- TDSAT Judgement of January 2019 and Reviewed Judgement from TDSAT of March 2019
- AO’s order following TDSAT Review
- Madras High Court order on Naavi as PIP
- Judgment of Madras High Court.