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Delhi High Court Seeks Status Report In Plea Seeking Constitution of SIT To Investigate Into Alleged Digital Fraud And Click Fraud Scam By Facebook

Nupur Thapliyal
1 April 2021 1:44 PM GMT
Delhi High Court Seeks Status Report In Plea Seeking Constitution of SIT To Investigate Into Alleged Digital Fraud And Click Fraud Scam By Facebook
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The Delhi High Court recently sought Delhi Police Cyber Cell's status report in a plea pertaining to alleged click fraud and other digital criminal frauds hatched by Facebook thereby seeking directions on Union of India, Delhi Police and Cyber Crime Cell to jointly constitute a Special Investigation Unit (SIT) for investigating into the complaint made by the petitioner company. The petition...

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The Delhi High Court recently sought Delhi Police Cyber Cell's status report in a plea pertaining to alleged click fraud and other digital criminal frauds hatched by Facebook thereby seeking directions on Union of India, Delhi Police and Cyber Crime Cell to jointly constitute a Special Investigation Unit (SIT) for investigating into the complaint made by the petitioner company. The petition also alleges that this might be the "biggest click fraud scam of India" having serious impact on economy thus requiring a fair and speedy investigation.

Justice Anu Malhotra vide order dated 24th March 2021 asked the Cyber Crime Cell to file the status report and listed the matter for further hearing on 15th April 2021.

The development came in a petition filed by Vas Data Services Pvt. Ltd., a company running its operations through www.yepme.com, alleging that Facebook, after misusing its dominating position in the clickable advertisement industry, has caused wrongful losses to the petitioner company resulting in its unlawful gains.

The petitioner company has been represented through Senior Advocate Maninder Singh along with other Advocates namely Gaurav Singh, Aekta Vats, Anuj Singh, Vediccaa Ramdanee and Anant Singh.

According to petitioner company, it has been alleged that on being induced by Facebook's market reputation and "tall claims", it had availed the ad services from Facebook. However, in the event of any Facebook user clicking the petitioner's advertisement, majority of them ended up on the petitioner's web page due to which increase in traffic of prospective customers could not be achieved.

"It is respectfully submitted that the present writ petition is being preferred by the petitioner, which is one such e-commerce platform viz www.yepme.com, inter alia to highlight the fraudulent and clandestine manner in which facebook.com, a social media website, has admittedly indulged in cheating with knowledge that wrongful loss may ensue to persons and has induced its customers, such as the Petitioner, to pay for ad-services knowing that it was faulty thereby resulting in huge financial losses and affecting its fundamental right to carry on its trade and business." The petition reads.

Petitioner's Complaint Against Facebook With Cyber Cell

The petitioner company, on the account of availing Facebook's services since 2011, made periodic payments on the number of clicks landing on its website on the basis of invoices submitted by Facebook. However, after noticing a drop in sales despite huge traffic as projected by Facebook and being shocked by its "illegal and mala fide acts", the petitioner registered an FIR against Facebook with Delhi Police's Cyber Cell in 2019.

The said complaint was filed on 18th February 2019 under sec. 415, 417, 418 read with 120B of IPC and sec. 66 of the Information Technology Act, 2000.

It was however alleged by the petitioner company that the Cyber Crime Cell did not lodge register the FR despite the complaint being filed under cognizable offences.

Justice Malhotra in its order dated 24th March 2021 however recorded that on a specific query asked by the Court to Delhi Police and Cyber Crime Cell, it was informed that the said complaint had already been closed.

Constitution of SIT in Larger Public Interest

Apart from the allegations with regards to digital fraud alleged against Facebook, the petition also seeks constitution of an immediate SIT within the mandate of Lalita Kumari judgment to carry out a fair, just and impartial investigation under the umbrella of an FIR.

"The injury is large and under a well planned conspiracy, directors, sleeping partners and affiliates etc. deceived the petitioners by fraudulently and dishonestly inducing them to deliver their hard earned money thereby causing injury to not only mind body and property but also right to life, liberty, dignity and trade guaranteed under Article 19 & 21 and bringing the petitioner to screeching halt. This also indicates a larger conspiracy which may have even impacted public money." The petition states.

Furthermore, the petition reads:

"Because this may be the biggest click fraud scam of India and has serious impact on economy thus requires fair-speedy investigation. Rule of law must be upheld and ensure that guilty is punished in accordance with Law notwithstanding their status. Hence, it should be investigated by CBI, ED and SFIO. It is necessary to state that fair, speedy and complete investigation is integral part of Article 21. Petitioners don't hope complete investigations if it remains in hands of State Police as real conspirators are powerful corporations with influence."

The petition sets out the following prayers:

1. Issue directions to Respondent No.3 to submit its detailed status report before the Hon'ble Court clearly laying down the action taken till date against the proposed Accused and to bring on record the entire case file including the documents received from the Accused persons if any.

2. Issue directions by way of a suitable writ to the Respondent No.1-3 to jointly constitute a Special Investigation Unit (SIT) under the able guidance of senior level officials of all concerned and handover the investigation in the captioned complaint to the SIT.

3. Issue directions to the SIT constituted to lodge the report and investigate the matter.

4. Issue directions to Respondent No.1 to set up a body/ Authority specifically dealing with digital frauds being carried out on digital platforms in order to safeguard the rights of the stakeholders and to submit a detailed proposal before the Hon'ble Court with respect to the same.

5. Pass any such order or further order(s) in favour of the Petitioner, which this Hon'ble Court may deem fit and proper in the facts and circumstances of the case as well as in the interest of justice.

Click Here To Read Order

 
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