Mangaluru, August 8, 2017: The Mangalore II JMFC Court has ordered the registration of a criminal case against the then DCF of Kudremukh Anita S. Arekal under the Information Technology Act, 2000 and Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 in connection with the alleged illegal seizing and hacking of the computer belonging to wildlife conservationist Niren Jain.
Anita Arekal who is now Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (APCCF), Social Forestry, Bangalore has been issued Summons to appear before the Court.
It was alleged that in 2004 when Anita who was the then DCF of Kudremukh, had conducted an illegal search of Niren Jain’s office and seized his personal computer despite having no jurisdiction or authority to do so. It was complained that the action aimed at threatening and harassing Niren Jain who was campaigning for stoppage of iron ore mining in the heart of Kudremukh National Park. The mining operation, which was causing severe impacts on the Bhadra River and its surrounding shola-grassland ecosystem, was subsequently ordered to close by the Supreme Court. The JMFC in the order has recorded that she accessed information from Jain’s computer and made available personal information to the media which prima facie makes out commission of offences punishable under Section 66 and 72 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 and Section 25 of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885.
Niren’s first legal victory came in the form of an order by the Principal Sessions Judge, Chikkamagaluru in 2005. Though the court had held that the entire search and seizure was illegal, the order was challenged in the High Court. The Court dismissed the State’s appeal. The High Court had in 2011 quashed the FIR filed against Niren Jain.
Now the JMFC has ordered the registration of a criminal case and issue of summons against the officer. The charges if proved will carry an imprisonment term upto three years and fine extending upto to two lakh rupees.