Facebook India Online Services and META Platforms Inc have knocked the doors of the Bombay High Court challenging an order of a consumer redressal commission directing it to pay Rs 25,599 to a labourer for non-delivery of a product he purchased online and fraudulent advertisement.
On Thursday, a Nagpur bench of Justice Manish Pitale heard two petitions filed by Facebook India Online Services Pvt Ltd and META Platforms Inc against the order passed by the District Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission, Gondia in June, 2022.
The commission had directed the companies to pay Rs 599 to a person for non-delivery of a product purchased online and Rs 25,000 for causing mental agony.
Justice Pitale granted a stay on the commission’s order, but directed Facebook India and META Platforms to deposit the amount with the registry of the high court. The bench also issued notice to the complainant and posted the matter for further hearing on November 15.
The commission had passed the order on a complaint filed by Tribhuvan Bhongade, a daily wage labourer, who claimed that he had seen an advertisement on Facebook by one Marya Studios selling Nike shoes for Rs 599.
Bhongade stated that he had placed an order for the shoes and made payment using his debit card in September 2020, but he never received the shoes. He further claimed that he had tried calling on the customer care number of Marya Studios, where a person further duped him of Rs 7,568.
Facebook India and META Platforms’ advocates Vivek Reddy, Soli Cooper and Charuhas Dharmadhikari, argued that the commission had passed the order without jurisdiction and that the plaint was not maintainable, as the complainant’s grievance ought to have been raised against Marya Studios, which was the company that allegedly duped him.
The companies in their pleas claimed that they have immunity in such matters under the provisions of the Information Technology Act pertaining to exemption from liability.
The petitions further stated that the companies had no role in the transaction and that it had not received any payment from Bhongade.
Facebook India does not qualify as an e-commerce entity or marketplace e-commerce entity since it does not provide a platform for electronic commerce and hence it cannot be held liable, it stated.
Bhongade, in his complaint filed before the commission, had claimed that Facebook in connivance with other people was running a scam and duping people through such false, misleading and fraudulent advertisements.
Bhongade had sought a compensation of Rs 1,27,568 for the agony he faced.
The commission in its order had directed Facebook to refund Rs 599 to Bhongade and also pay him Rs 25,000 for mental agony, and directed the company to run scam-related awareness advertisements on a regular basis to avoid such incidents.
(With PTI inputs)