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Legal Sharing Passwords With Spouse Is Risky

Jan 1, 2010
Wait before you leap! Share everything with your caring spouse except details of your online accounts, especially if she is a techie. In the first reported case of its kind in the country, a wife hacked the e-mail account of her estranged husband with the help of her two tech-savvy colleagues to collect evidence against him in a dowry case.
The bizarre case surfaced when the aggrieved husband knocked at the door of the cyber appellate tribunal (CAT) in New Delhi.
Earlier, he had lost an appeal before the Maharashtra’s adjudicating officer, who had given a clean chit to his wife in the hacking case.
The husband, Neeraj Kaushik alleged that his wife Madhvika, who works with a Pune-based company as an SAP consultant, hacked into his and his father’s e-mail accounts from June 2008 to March 2009. The marriage had last for just six months and later she moved out and filed a criminal complaint claiming that her husband was harassing her for dowry. While the dowry case is being heard, the husband now claims that she hacked the emails to gather evidence in the dowry case.
The husband has also sought a compensation of Rs50 lakh from Madhvika and her two colleagues who helped her hacking the email accounts on the plea that they violated the IT Act, 2000.
Madhvika refused to comment. However, she had told the adjudicating officer that she did not hack into the email accounts and it was her husband who had provided her with the passwords of both the accounts. This claim then was not denied by her estranged husband and the Maharashtra adjudicating officer gave Madhavika a clean chit.
But now Kaushik has denied that he or his family members provided the passwords and sought relief in the CAT. Neeraj and Madhvika were married in January 2008 and stayed together for six months.
Commenting on the Maharashtra adjudicating officer’s order, Supreme Court lawyer and cyber law expert Pavan Duggal said, “The cyber appellate tribunal will have to primarily see whether any contravention took place under section 43 of the amended IT Act, 2000.”
This is the first such case reported with CAT, though similar cases abroad have been reported. In the US, a person was jailed recently for five years for hacking his ex-wife’s email account. In another case, a man was arrested for hacking women’s email accounts and sending nude pictures of them to everyone in their address book.
Rajneesh Madhok

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