Case Study – Section 66C

February 16, 2013, by | Start Discussion

Vinod Kaushik and Ors. V. Madhvika Joshi and Ors., Before Sh. Rajesh Aggarwal, Adjudicating Officer,Information Technology Act, 2000, Government of Maharashtra, At Mantralaya,Mumbai- 400032, Complaint No.2 of 2010192
The adjudicating officer held that the act of the wife to access information from the email account of the husband without his permission is unauthorized access under Section 43 of the IT Act, 2000. It also noted that there cannot be any compensation as the wife has not published the information. She has only submitted it to the police and court. The adjudicating officer also held the wife liable under Section 66-C193of the IT Act for dishonestly making use of password of any other person.

The main issue in this case is whether accessing husband’s and father in law’s email account without their permission amounts to ‘unauthorized access’.

In this case, the first respondent had accessed the email account of her husband and father in law, in order to acquire evidence in a Dowry harassment case.   The Adjudicating Officer held that, accessing e-mail account without authorization amounts to contravention of section 43 of the Information Technology Act, 2000. There was no compensation awarded to the complainant as the respondent has only submitted the information so obtained to the police and the court. The Adjudicating Officer, however ordered the first respondent to pay a fine of Rs. 100, as she was held to be in contravention of Section 66-C (identity theft anddishonest use of password of any other person) of the Information Technology Act, 2000.

Defense of a bonafide intention, in case of violation of privacy by accessing e-mail account without the consent of the user was upheld. The relationship of husband and wife was also taken into consideration. The adjudicating officer also relied on the reasoning that the information procured by the ‘unauthorized access’ was only disclosed before the Court and the police, therefore the respondent is not liable to pay any compensation to the complainant.

It can be safely concluded that this judicial interpretation was made due to the peculiar facts of the case that the relationship between the Petitioner and Respondent was that of husband and wife and that the information was used only to be shared with the police as evidence

Vaishali Bhagwat is a Computer Science graduate and now practicing lawyer in Pune since last 15 years. She has vast experience in Cyber Cases, both civil and criminal and is an advisor to several IT and ITES companies in India

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