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Intermediary Liability: Karnataka HC dismisses criminal complaint against Snapdeal and its executives for sale of Suhagra

On January 7, the Karnataka High Court quashed a criminal complaint against Snapdeal and its executives Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal. The criminal complaint alleged that Snapdeal and its executives violated the Drugs and Cosmetics Act by allowing the sale of Suhagra 100, a prescription medicine used for erectile dysfunction. The court said that an intermediary and its executives cannot be held liable for the actions of the sellers, who make use of its marketplace to buy or sell items. The judgment, passed by the single-judge bench of Justice Suraj Govindaraj, also ruled the following: A court can exercise jurisdiction in an offence relating an e-commerce transaction only if the e-commerce company has presence, in the form of a registered office, brand office, corporate office or the like, in the area falling within the court's jurisdiction. Only cyber crimes are exempt from this.   If the e-commerce company does not have an office under a court’s jurisdiction, the court needs to carry out an enquiry under Section 202 of the Criminal Procedure code to decide whether issuing summons to somebody falling outside its jurisdiction is necessary for the proceeds of the case.  The High Court also took into account the unreasonable delay of six years between the offence (sale of Suhagra), which occurred in 2014 and the eventual filing of the complaint in June 2020. It declared that there is "no acceptable explanation" of the “highly belated” filing of the complaint and that the “delay is fatal to these proceedings”.  …

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