DGGI-NFSU Inaugurates India’s First Digital Forensic Laboratory

DGGI-NFSU Inaugurates India - First Digital Forensic Laboratory - TAXSCAN

A significant leap in combating financial crimes in the digital age was achieved with the inauguration of the first Digital Forensic Laboratory at the campus of the National Forensic Sciences University (NFSU) in Gandhinagar.

The inauguration ceremony, held on January 8, 2024, was graced by Shri Rajiv Talwar, Member (Compliance Management), Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC), and Dr. J M Vyas, Vice Chancellor, NFSU.

This pioneering initiative is a collaborative effort between the National Forensic Sciences University, an Institution of National Importance under the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, and the Directorate General of GST Intelligence (DGGI), an apex intelligence and investigation agency under CBIC, Department of Revenue. The project aims to establish state-of-the-art digital forensic labs at five locations—Gandhinagar, New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, and Chennai—with an estimated cost of Rs.16 crore.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for this groundbreaking project was signed on February 7, 2023, and the first of the five labs has been set up in less than a year from the project’s sanction. Two additional labs in Delhi and Chennai are scheduled to commence operations before March 2024, while the remaining two labs in Mumbai and Kolkata will be operational by June 2024.

Equipped with cutting-edge tools and solutions of international standards, these forensic labs offer diverse applications and enhanced facilities for mobile forensics, computer forensic capabilities, password cracking, and other technological aspects. The primary objective is to strengthen the capabilities of DGGI in cyber and digital forensics, expediting investigations, launching effective prosecutions, and securing convictions against serious tax offenders.

As part of a comprehensive capacity-building program, a two-day hands-on training session was conducted in December 2023 for the first batch of DGGI officials. The training covered various aspects of handling digital exhibits, seizing digital devices, and retrieving data during search and seizures.

Additional training programs are in the pipeline, and DGGI plans to accredit its NFSU Gandhinagar facility as an ‘examiner of electronic evidence’ under section 79A of the Information Technology Act, 2000.

Dr. J. M. Vyas, Vice Chancellor, NFSU, expressed his enthusiasm about the laboratory’s launch, emphasising its significance in enhancing law enforcement agencies’ capabilities. He highlighted that the collaboration with DGGI is the beginning of a commitment to establishing various verticals focused on research, innovation, and knowledge dissemination in the field of digital forensics.

The Vice Chancellor envisaged the collaboration expanding into multifaceted dimensions, including joint research endeavours, training programs, and knowledge-sharing initiatives.

DGGI remains steadfast in its commitment to harness cutting-edge technologies and solutions offered by these advanced Digital Forensic Labs, along with other analytical and technical tools. The goal is to combat tax evasion effectively, conduct more thorough investigations, and ensure the expeditious prosecution and conviction of fraudsters and offenders.

The event witnessed the presence of other distinguished personalities, including Shri Anil Kumar Gupta, Pr. Director General, DGGI, Shri Sunil Kumar Singh, DG SNU (West), DGGI, and Dr. S O Junare, Director, NFSU.

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