Major Telecom Company Bharti Airtel has to face trial as the High Court of Madras on 5th February 2020 denied to quash the criminal proceeding which was initiated against the company because of obscene messages received by a customer.
While dismissing the plea, Justice P Velmurugan also directed the chief judicial magistrate in Egmore to carry one the trial according to the law and complete it within four months.
A police complaint was lodged by advocate V S Suresh in 2011 against the company and its former chief executive officer Rajiv Rajgopalan as the company couldn’t stop the obscene messages received by him even after various complaints. On the basis of this complaint, the cyber cell of Central Crime Branch (CCB) registered an FIR under Section 92, 292A (distribution of obscene contents) & 294Indian Penal Code, 1860 & Sections 3, 4 & 6 of Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986 & Sections 2, 3 & 6 of the Young Persons (Harmful Publications) Act, 1956.
After investigation, CCB prepared a chargesheet in 2013 after which the magistrate ordered summons to the accused. Then the company filed a petition asking to set aside the criminal proceeding.
While backing their petition, the company’s counsel said that “The Company is only a service provider and has no role in sending such messages as it has no occasion to see the messages transferred from one customer to another.” He further added that “The messages said to have been received by Suresh were also not obscene as defined under the Indian Penal Code & therefore, the petitioner has nothing to do with the messages received by Suresh.”
While referring to the statement recorded by the police, the judge said that “It shows prima facie evidence & also the advocate made a complaint before the petitioners, for which they haven't taken any action.”
Whether the company is liable or not will be decided during trial and the court did not find any reason to interfere in the criminal proceeding.
Author- Aditi Dubey