Your friend just broke your newly bought smartphone and now refuses to pay for your damages. You have asked him a million times and he has just dodged your calls. Now, you’re left with a broken phone and embarrassment to beg even further.
Not many of us are aware that breaking someone’s phone is an offence which has a remedy in law.
This blog ensures that the law is by your side and legal remedy is just a scroll away.
Table of Contents
- What can a person do after his phone is broken?
- Phone considered as computer for legal interpretation
- What is Section 43 of the IT Act?
- Requisites of Section 43(d) and compensation
- Negligence and accidents create liability
Person ‘A’ has bought a new phone and is showing it to his friend, ‘B’. While looking at the phone, ‘B’ drops it and a massive crack is formed on the phone which damages the internal hardware. A has a legal remedy to approach the court by filing a case against B under Section 43 of the Information Technology Act.
All rules related to computers and computer resources are governed by the Information Technology Act 2000, but a lesser-known fact is, even the act of breaking someone’s phone is protected under Section 43 (d) of this act.
In fact, Section 43 (d) of IT Act uses the word “computer”, i.e. personal computers, laptops, smartphones, and tablets, etc. are dealt under this provision.
You can con recover damages if anyone breaks your computer, tablet or phone, etc. either by accident or negligence.
A computer refers to any high-speed processing device which performs logical and memory functions by magnetic impulses.
In simpler words, a computer is an electronic device for storing and processing data, according to instructions given to it in a variable program.
The above two definitions indicate that ‘computer’ also includes mobile phones and smartphones.
“[Penalty and compensation] for damage to a computer, computer system, etc.–If any person without the permission of the owner or any other person who is in charge of a computer, computer system or computer network,–
(d) damages or causes to be damaged any computer, computer system or computer network, data, computer database or any other programmes residing in such computer, computer system or computer network
he shall be liable to pay damages by way of compensation to the person so affected.”
To understand this section, it is important to understand how the legislature intends to define the word “damage”. The Explanation (iv) to Section 43 defines damages as,
“Damage means to destroy, alter, delete, add, modify or rearrange any computer resource by any means”
Computer resources include a computer, computer system, computer network, data, computer database or software.
Therefore, if a person intentionally or accidentally causes damage to a computer, then that person is liable to compensate the owner of the computer for losses suffered due to the damage caused.
There are only two requisites to prove Section 43(d):
- It must be done without the permission of the owner.
- Damage or an attempt to damage a computer resource must be done, therefore it can include screen cracks, hardware issues or even deletion or modification of any information residing in the phone.
If the above two are proved, then your friend is liable to pay damages by way of compensation.
Section 43 (d) is a wide provision and tries to include every virtual or physical damage caused where the computer is targeted by any means.
Since this act is covered under the IT Act therefore the procedure on filing a complaint to the adjudicating authority can be found here – Learn to file complaint before Adjudicating Officer?
The adjudicating officer after hearing both sides of the case confirms that the phone was broken due to mishandling by person B and awards liquidated damages to be paid to person A as compensation for his broken phone. The damages are to the extent of the amount required by A to replace or repair the phone, whichever is necessary.
When you give someone your phone, that person owes you a duty of care, which means he will care for the phone as if it were his own. However, if a person drops the phone, and causes damage to it, he will be considered to have breached this duty of care. Such a breach is referred to as negligence. In cases of negligence too, a person can claim damages from the other for damages suffered due to the phone breaking.
A person breaking your phone feels like a small issue and is often overlooked. This leads to several people being unaware of their rights which causes issues in the legal system.
The IT Act, 2000 provides a remedy for damage to a computer, computer network and computer system. A Phone would be considered a computer for this purpose.
The intention to cause damage in such cases doesn’t matter because the IT Act mandates strict liability in such cases.
Edited by Dhvani Shah