J&K HC directs police to file FIR against Facebook chief, others

KT NEWS SERVICE. Dated: 2/21/2021 12:34:48 PM

Man falls for loan trap featured on Facebook ‘sponsored page’

JAMMU, Feb 20: Jammu and Kashmir High Court today ordered the cyber police to register an FIR against Facebook India head and other accused persons in a cheating case.
The high court passed an order on a petition filed by one Vivek Sagar which said on August 9, 2020, when he was surfing Facebook, he got a loan offer from Bajaj Finance on the sponsored category page of the social networking site.
Sagar said, he initially ignored the loan offer, which was frequently getting displayed by Facebook. He said finally the accused person became successful in trapping him to accept the loan offer after he clicked the “apply now button”. The complainant applied for a loan of Rs 1.5 lakh after filing various forms and submitting all information sought by the firm concerned.
Immediately he received an acknowledgement through an SMS on his phone from the firm concerned. The next day he received a call from a person who identified himself as an employee of Bajaj Finance and asked him to deposit Rs 1,500. After receiving relevant details from the caller, did so. Soon he got a message on his phone that Rs 1.5 lakh has been credited to his account. However, he got another message that said the money will be cleared only after the complainant pays Rs 9,900 as TDC, which will be refundable.
After depositing the money, he received another call from the accused employee saying he has to deposit Rs 9,300 as GST. He was threatened that if he did not transfer the money, his loan will not be released and his earlier amount will be forfeited. After depositing the amount in favour of the accused, the accused again sent him an SMS demanding Rs 9,900.
On this, he got suspicious and demanded his money back. He made many calls to the accused but he didn’t pick up his phone forcing him to file a complaint with the Cyber Police alleging that he had been duped by accused persons, including Facebook, Bajaj Finance, Quadrant Televentures, and others by making use of the internet and SMS communication services.
He alleged that they have committed the offence under relevant sections of the IPC and IT Act, 2000. His lawyer, Deepak Sharma, told newspersons that the police didn’t register the case forcing them to approach the magistrate.
On September 02, 2020, special railway magistrate, Jammu, passed an order saying cognizable offences have been found to have been committed. However, the magistrate directed the SSP crime branch, Jammu, to look into the allegations and if some cognizable offence is found to have been committed by the accused persons, then only, an FIR should be registered and investigated.
The petitioner through his counsel filed an appeal before the high court against the order of the magistrate saying if the magistrate was satisfied that cognizable offences had been committed then he shouldn’t have left the case to the police to determine whether the cognizable offences had been committed or not.
The high court concurred with his arguments saying, it appears that there is a contradiction in the order passed by the magistrate. “While on one hand, the magistrate appears to be satisfied that cognizable offences seemed to have been committed on the basis of averments made in the complaint, on the other hand, the magistrate has forwarded the complaint to be looked into by the crime branch with a further direction to register a case only if some cognizable offences are found to have been committed,” the court said.
The court described the magistrate’s order as contrary and bad in law and sets it aside. The court directed the in-charge cyber cell to register an FIR and take up investigation in the case.
Sharma told Outlook that Facebook or any other social or commercial platform has to be cautious and diligent about what is being sold at the platform.

 

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