New Delhi, Jan 15 (IANS) In wake of the CBI raid on his office, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Sunday termed the whole exercise an 'act of malice', citing how the agency raided his office on a second Saturday (official holiday) and gave a handwritten notice to the Secretary to seize a computer from the conference room.
'CBI is trying to maliciously frame me, seized the computer without providing Hash Value. I have clear apprehension that the CBI has seized the computer to destroy the confidential documents, implant files in the CPU to falsely implicate me as my name is not in the CBI charge sheet. In the absence of recording Hash Value during the seizure, the CBI can change the record in the seized CPU as per its convenience to maliciously frame me,' Sisodia said in a statement.
'Yesterday was a Second Saturday, so my office was closed, when some CBI Official telephonically informed my PS to come to the office and open the same. When my PS reached the office at around 3 p.m., he saw that a team of CBI officials was already present at my office. The CBI Officials asked him to open the office and to take them to the conference room. As they reached the conference room, they saw a computer installed therein, asked my PS to switch it on, assessed the same, and, forthwith, handed over a Notice under Section 91 CrPc to the Secretary, Deputy CM (GNCTD) with reference to the investigation of RC0032022A0053,' he added.
Sisodia said that as per the Notice, the Secretary was requested to produce the CPU of the system installed in the conference room. 'Thereafter, the CPU from the conference room of my office was seized without following the due procedure laid down. From the perusal of the said notice, it was perceived that the notice was hand-written to the Secretary, and immediately the property (CPU) was seized which shows the mala-fide of the Officer. The said conduct/act of the CBI Officials also shows their malice whereby the notice was given and immediately the said property was seized that too without following the guidelines as laid down in Chapter XVI: Cyber Crimes, CBI (Crime) Manual 2020. As it is explicitly mentioned in the said CBI Manual in Chapter XVI, 16.19: the Collection of Digital Evidence has to be in accordance with legal requirements.'
Sisodia underlined that as the 'integrity of the seized electronic device/digital device is quintessential to establish the case, it is important to ensure the hash value of the data record is taken by the Investigating Officer at the time of seizure.' The use of Hashing to authenticate electronic records is detailed in section 3(2) of the IT Act, 2000.
Hash value is essentially an electronic fingerprint. The data within a file is represented through the cryptographic algorithm as a value known as hash-value. It is a string of data variables. It is the key to determine and validate the integrity of the data in question. The CBI Manual also mandates that at the time of seizure of electronic document itself, an image of the same shall also be created and the said image shall also be hashed and tally with the hashing of the seized date to ensure data integrity.
'It is, therefore, a matter of record, as per the Seizure Memo provided to us by the CBI after the seizure that no 'HASH VALUE' was taken and mentioned by the Officer in the seizure memo who had seized the CPU, nor CBI made an image of the seized document and hashed it,' he claimed.
Sisodia said: 'I have clear apprehension that CBI has seized the CPU to destroy the confidential files/documents stored therein and will implant/edit files in the CPU and use the same to falsely implicate me as my name is not in the CBI charge sheet as an accused with respect to the afore-mention case.'
'Though the CBI/ED investigation in the Excise matter has been going on since last August, 2022, it has not led to discovery of any material against me. However, the CBI is still continuing with its fishing and roving inquiry in the matter even after the charge sheet has been filed. This act clearly demonstrates that no procedural safeguards were complied which would have ensured integrity of electronic documents as mandated under the CBI Manual & IT Act. Therefore, the seizure of the electronic evidence yesterday has lost its authenticity and integrity in the eyes of law.'