HC orders registration of FIR against Facebook, others in a complaint about online fraud

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Jammu: The Jammu and Kashmir High Court here ordered the UT’s Crime Branch to register an FIR against Facebook India Online Services and seven others and conduct investigations into a complaint of online fraud against them.

Setting aside an order passed by Special Railway Magistrate, Jammu, Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur of the J&K High Court ordered that the “Incharge Cyber Cell would register an FIR and the same shall be investigated by the concerned Branch dealing with the cyber offences’’.

The others include Hyderabad based Facebook India’s Country Head Ajit Mohan, Pune based Bajaj Finance Limited and its Managing Director Rajiv Jain, Mohali based Quadrant Televentures Ltd, besides Directors of  Quadrant Teleservices Ltd, Dinesh A Kadam and Pritesh G Lahoti, and Aman Singh Chaurhdary, an employee of Bajaj Finserv.

The order came in a petition filed in high court against an order of the  Special Railway Magistrate who while disposing of a complaint alleging online fraud held that “ex facie the cognizable offences are found to have been committed’’ and 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 shall be registered and the occurence shall be investigated forthwith’’. The trial court directed the SSP to submit compliance report with 15 days after the receipt of the order.

Challenging the Railway Magistrate’s order in the High Court, complainant’s counsel Deepak Sharma advocate pointed out that “if the learned magistrate was satisfied that cognizable offences were on the face of it had been committed then there was no occasion for him to leave it open to the respondents to look into the allegations to determine as to whether cognizable offences had been committed our not’’.

The complaint, in which complainant Vivek Sagar alleged that he had been duped of Rs 20,700 by online fraudsters on pretext of granting him loan, was filed before Railway Magistrate after police declined to register an FIR in the matter. The loan was offered by Bajaj Finance Ltd through social networking site Facebook on which complainant has an account, it added.

Accepting the argument of the complainant’s  counsel, Justice Thakur observed that “one a perusal of the order impugned, it thus appears tht there is a contradiction’’ in it. While on one hand, the learned Magistrate appears to be satisfied tht cognizable offences seemed to have been committed on the basis of averments made in the complaint, on the other hand, he has forwarded the complaint to be looked into by the Crime Branch with a further direction to register a case only if some cognizble offences are found to have been committed, Justice Thakur observed, adding “be that as it may, the order impugned to the extent it leaves the issue of registration of FIR to the wisdom of the official respondents is bad in law and is, accordingly, set aside’’.