The Madras High Court has discharged a chartered accountant from a criminal case booked against him following a strain in the relationship between a married couple, who were his clients, with the woman accusing her husband of having logged into her income tax account discreetly, downloaded her returns and submitted it as evidence before a court of law.
Justice D. Bharatha Chakravarthy held that there were absolutely no prima facie materials to implicate the chartered accountant R. Seshadri in the case booked under Section 66 read with Section 43 of the Information Technology Act (Amendment) Act of 2008 which provides for a maximum imprisonment for a period of three years or imposition of fine up to Rs. 5 lakh or both.
The judge pointed out that the dispute primarily appeared to be between the couple and it had led to multiple criminal and civil proceedings. Their chartered accountant had been dragged into the case booked under the IT Act without there being any material to indicate that he had fraudulently or dishonestly assisted the woman’s husband in accessing her income tax account.
Though the prosecution claimed that the income tax returns could not have been downloaded without the chartered accountant’s help since the one time password would have got sent only to his e-mail, the petitioner told the court that his e-mail remains open on multiple computers in his office since his assistants use it to upload and download the details of various clients as part of their operations.
He pointed out that the statements of the witnesses recorded by the Chennai Central Crime Branch police would prove his assertion. It was further brought to the notice of the court that the complainant’s husband might have taken advantage of the working pattern in the chartered accountant’s office and that there was no material to prove that it was the latter who indulged in a dishonest act.
Accepting the argument, the judge allowed a criminal revision petition and quashed an order passed by a Judicial Magistrate in Alandur on April 18 refusing to discharge the chartered accountant. The judge held that the petitioner was entitled to discharge.