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Bombay HC quashes cheating proceedings initiated against Amazon India head

The Bombay high court on Thursday quashed a criminal complaint and summons issued to Amazon India’s head Amit Agarwal by a magistrate’s court, following a complaint of cheating filed by a city-based lawyer.

Justice S.K. Shinde quashed the process or summon issued against Amazon India through its India head Amit Agarwal, by a magistrate’s court in Ulhasnagar of Thane district in August this year.

The magistrate’s court had issued the process following a complaint filed by lawyer Amritpal Singh Khalsa, who had placed an order for a hard drive on Amazon’s official website in December 2019, but never received it.

Khalsa then lodged a complaint with the local police station, following which, the magistrate’s court issued the process, akin to a notice, to initiate the proceedings in the case.

The lawyer had claimed that despite numerous calls to Amazon India’s customer care, he had not received the product or a refund for the same.

In the high court, senior counsel Shirish Gupte, who appeared for Amazon India, argued that the company merely provided a neutral platform for sellers and buyers, and that it was not a seller of the hard drive ordered by Khalsa.

Gupte argued that the case was not that of cheating, but was a commercial dispute.

Khalsa, however, argued that since he had neither received the refund, nor the goods ordered, Amazon India had conspired with the seller to dupe him.

Hence, it was a valid case of cheating as defined under the Indian Penal Code, he claimed.

The court, however, agreed that Amazon was not a seller in the present case.

“Admittedly, herein the transaction is not between two natural persons. Petitioner operates e-commerce entity to provide information on digital network and acts as a facilitator between buyer and seller. Petitioner does not own the product and sells the goods to the customer directly,” it observed.

The court further said that the allegations did not constitute an offence of cheating, nor do they disclose the fraudulent intention of the petitioner.

The high court accordingly quashed the complaint pending before the Ulhasnagar magistrate’s court and its order dated August 16, issuing process to Amazon India through Agarwal. PTI

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