Avnish Bajaj vs State, famously known as Bazee.com case (2005)

In the Avnish Bajaj v. State (NCT) of Delhi case, Mr. Avnish Bajaj sought the quashing of a summoning order issued against him by the competent Court. This summoning order stemmed from allegations that he had committed offenses under Section 292 of the Indian Penal Code (related to the advertisement/sale of obscene objects) and Section 67 of the Information Technology Act (related to causing the publication of obscene objects on the internet) during his tenure as the Managing Director of Bazee, an online platform later acquired by E-Bay.

The case revolved around an incident where an obscene video was listed for sale on the Bazee website, despite safety filters designed to prevent such listings. Although the listing was removed within a couple of days upon discovery, several sales had already occurred. Avnish Bajaj was named as an accused in the charge sheet filed by the prosecution, leading him to file a petition under Section 482 before the Delhi High Court to quash the summoning order.

Key Issues and Arguments:

1. Liability of the Website: The main issue was whether the website, Bazee (later E-Bay), and its Managing Director could be held liable for the listing of the obscene video. The petitioner argued that the transaction occurred directly between the seller and the buyer without the website’s direct involvement, so holding the website responsible for the listing was unjust.

2. Charges Under Section 292 and 294 IPC and Section 67 IT Act: The case also raised questions about whether the offenses under Section 292 and 294 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 67 of the IT Act were applicable in this situation.

3. Liability of the Managing Director: There was a debate regarding whether the Managing Director of the company could be held liable if the company itself was not named as a principal accused under Section 67 of the IT Act.

Court’s Judgment:

The court found a prima facie case under Section 292 (2) (a) and 292 (2) (d) of the IPC against the website. It held that the website could be attributed with knowledge of the obscene content due to the absence of appropriate filters, making it potentially liable under the strict liability imposed by Section 292.

However, the court did not find a prima facie case against Avnish Bajaj. It pointed out that the Indian Penal Code did not recognize the concept of automatic criminal liability for a director when the company was not accused. Therefore, Avnish Bajaj was not held liable under the provisions of Section 292 and 294 of the Indian Penal Code.

However, Avnish Bajaj was held liable under Section 67 of the IT Act because the law recognized the criminal liability of directors even when the company was not named as an accused. The court’s decision was based on Section 85 of the IT Act, which allows proceedings against individuals in charge of a company that commits an offense under the IT Act.

Later Developments:

The Supreme Court, in a subsequent case in 2012, overruled the findings, stating that vicarious liability could not be attributed to Avnish Bajaj since the company was not arraigned as an accused. This led to a change in the IT Act to introduce an amendment to Section 79(1) of the IT Act, providing immunity and safe harbor to intermediaries, such as websites, for content posted by third parties under certain conditions.

In summary, the case involved complex legal issues surrounding the liability of a website and its Managing Director for obscene content posted by users, leading to significant legal developments in India’s IT Act.

Written by: Advocate Muskan Chauhan

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This field is required.

This field is required.


The following disclaimer governs the use of this website (“Website”) and the services provided by the Law offices of Kr. Vivek Tanwar Advocate & Associates in accordance with the laws of India. By accessing or using this Website, you acknowledge and agree to the terms and conditions stated in this disclaimer.

The information provided on this Website is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as legal advice or relied upon as such. The content of this Website is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship between you and the Law Firm. Any reliance on the information provided on this Website is done at your own risk.

The Law Firm makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, regarding the accuracy, completeness, reliability, or suitability of the information contained on this Website.

The Law Firm disclaims all liability for any errors or omissions in the content of this Website or for any actions taken in reliance on the information provided herein. The information contained in this website, should not be construed as an act of solicitation of work or advertisement in any manner.