Read Judgment: Amazon India vs. State of Maharashtra & Anr. 

Pankaj Bajpai

New Delhi, November 1, 2021: While quashing the summon issued by the JMFC, Ulhasnagar to the Country Head of Amazon India, to appear in person, the Bombay High Court has opined that the allegations did not constitute an offence of cheating, nor the allegations disclosed the fraudulent intention of Amit Agarwal (Senior Vice President and Country Head of Amazon India –petitioner), when Amritpal Singh Khalsa (advocate – complainant) placed an order of the product in question. 

The petitioner being a mere facilitator, complainants’ allegations that he was induced to buy a product with intention to cheat him, was wholly absent, added the Court. 

The Bench of Justice S. K. Shinde observed that there was no material on record to even suggest that the petitioner had a direct involvement and inducing the complainant to place an order with intention, not to deliver it, even after receiving the consideration for the same. 

The observation came pursuant to a summon issued by the Ulhasnagar Magistrate court to Amit Agarwal (Vice President of Amazon India) for the offence punishable u/s 420 r/w/s 34 of IPC, in a criminal complaint filed by a Mumbai lawyer, Amritpal Singh Khalsa, over non-receipt of a product ordered through the e-commerce website. 

The counsel on behalf of Amazon submitted that being an e-commerce website which only provides an online platform to the seller to sell their products, the Vice President of the company was not involved in the day to day activities and hence there was no need to have summoned him. 

After considering the submissions and complaint, the High Court found that the present transaction is not between two natural persons, as the petitioner does not own the product and sell the goods to the customer directly.

Since Petitioner is not following an inventory based model, it has no control over the transaction between two parties i.e. buyer and seller, as the petitioner simply, receives and stores the information on behalf of the seller and buyer and acts as a facilitator, added the Court. 

Justice Shinde noted that the product in question was dispatched through an independent service provider, but due to technical defect, it could not be delivered. 

The Single Judge also noted that the allegations in the complaint did not disclose thr role of petitioner in commission of crime in question and this fact had been admitted by the Magistrate by observing that the human contact is nowhere and is minimal to the extent of customer care or grievance redressal.  

As to constitute offence u/s 420 of IPC, it must be shown that Complainant parted with his property, acting on a representation, which was false to the knowledge of the accused; and the persons so deceived should be induced to deliver any property to any person or the person so deceived should be intentionally induced to do anything which he would not do if he was not so do and the act done pursuant to inducement should be one are caused or likely to cause damage or harm to the person induced in body, mind, reputation or property”, observed Justice Shinde. 

The High Court therefore allowed the petition and said that the Magistrate had committed an error in concluding that a prima-facie case of cheating had been made out.

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