Consider this. Instances of cyber crime have gone up by 207% in the last one year, point out statistics given out by the Mumbai police in April 2015. With the world wide web virtually at your fingertips, cyber crimes are on the rise. Credit card frauds, phishing email scams, online romance scams, hacking of accounts and revenge porn cases are some of the more notorious forms of cyber crime. Relationships are lived out in the virtual world and there are even cases of matrimonial fraud rampant in the online portals.
In such a changed scenario, digital evidence is needed in almost all legal cases today, including divorce as evidence of cruelty, adultery and other matrimonial offences. The evidence is mostly in the form of e-mails, whatsapp messages and social media chats.
It is significant to note that data theft is also on the rise, where databases of major E-commerce firms are targeted and subsequently the user data is used to commit online banking frauds, extortion etc.
This is where people like Puneet Bhasin come in. A cyber law expert, practicing this challenging yet interesting field of law in Mumbai, Puneet says she is happy to be part of this branch of law.
With Information Technology (IT) largely perceived as a male-dominated sector, Puneet says the only challenge she faced was the newness of the field and not so much with her being a woman practicing cyber law.
When I started practicing in 2011, e-commerce was not a big domain in India and cyber crimes were also on the lower end of the spectrum. Educating people and continuing to remain in this field till the advent of tablets, smart phones and the virtual world age which has grown manifold in the last three years, was indeed a challenge,
says 26-year-old Puneet. When Puneet passed out of Law College in 2011 specializing in Cyber Laws, most law firms did not hire Associates with this specialization. Though she received offers to join law firms and help set up a technology law practice, the work scope remained restricted and so was the client base.
Law happened by chance to this expert
Though her father was an IIT alumnus engineer and her grandfather had been a lawyer, she was interested in medicine and engineering. She tried her hand at both the entrance exams and qualified for both but somehow did not see herself practicing any of those professions 10 years down the line.
“When I announced this at home, there was disturbance and my parents were concerned about my
future,” says Puneet. That is when she came across the details of a 5 year law course at the Government Law College, Mumbai in the India Today magazine, while waiting for her grandmother’s turn at a doctor’s clinic.She was impressed that this college boasted some big names in the field of law and politics in the country. And the best thing was this college was in Mumbai, her home, which meant she did not have to leave the city she loved.
Government Law College was the only law college where Puneet had applied and she got admission there. In her very first year of college, she had seen a notice put up about a Diploma in Cyber Law, classes for which would be held after college hours on weekends, and she took it up out of sheer curiosity.
“I fell in love with this field of law and in the second year of law school on completion of the requisite certifications I became a Certified Cyber Crime Investigator,” says Puneet, all of 19 then, and underage to practice or intern in this field.
She went on to complete her Bachelors in Legal Sciences (B.L.S) degree and followed that up with a Post Graduate Diploma in Cyber Laws. In 2011 when she passed out of Law College, she started practicing. During the weekends, she was a faculty at the Asian School of Cyber Laws where she taught Cyber Laws to lawyers and IT professionals.
Gift of the gab
During her growing up years, Puneet did not have the slightest inkling that she would pursue law someday.
Some of the teachers at school would tell me that I had the gift of the gab, however, I never related that to pursuing a career in law. My parents did always feel I was too rational and logical, something they felt would make me a misfit in society,
she says. However, when she took up law, she realized that these are the exact skills needed to become a lawyer. “It was like the right fit for me,” says Puneet.
This lawyer’s hobbies
Puneet is spiritual person and believes in the doctrine of ‘shraddha’ and ‘saburi’, which means ‘faith’ and ‘patience’. “This has been my guiding principle in weak moments of life and stages of my career where things did not look very good. I simply knew I had to have faith and be patient,” she says.
In her free time, this tough as nails cyber lawyer likes to paint, cook, write poetry, listen to music and watch movies. Cooking is a stress buster for Puneet, who particularly enjoys making desserts and has a permanent fan in her younger sister, who motivates her to learn more exotic cooking techniques.
And how does she unwind after a tough day at work, dealing with cyber criminals? She makes sure she keeps her sanity intact by ending each day with a good book.