Prabhu v. State of Karnataka

Samiksha UniyalCase Summary

Liability of Bharat Matrimony as an intermediary in a case of fraud and cheating

Prabhu v. State of Karnataka
In the High Court of Karnataka
WP 38070/2014
Before Justice H B Prabhakara Sastry
Decided on April 07, 2021

Relevancy of the case: Liability of Bharat Matrimony as an intermediary in a case of fraud and cheating

Statutes and Provisions Involved

  • The Information Technology Act, 2000 (Section 2(w), 79)
  • The Constitution of India, 1950 (Article 226, 227)
  • The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (Section 482)
  • The Indian Penal Code, 1860 (Section 34, 120B, 418, 420, 427, 471)

Relevant Facts of the Case

  • The complainant registered with the Bharat Matrimony website for searching for a life partner for his daughter.
  • A representative of the Bharat Matrimony contacted the accused as a prospective partner for the complainant’s partner. After the approval from both sides, the complainant received the accused’s phone number and the talks culminated with the decision of marriage.
  • The accused informed the complainant that he served the British military and was posted in Afghanistan. The military had awarded him a bag of money worth $460,000, and he could not carry it abroad. However, the complainant can receive this bag from a diplomat,
  • The complainant transferred ₹24,30,000 for releasing the bag from the airport authorities. Three phone numbers that contacted the complainant during the money transfer were switched off soon. Later on, he realised that the accused had cheated him.
  • The complainant lodged a complaint with the concerned police station. The website has filed this petition for quashing the first information report.

Prominent Arguments by the Advocates

  • The petitioner’s counsel submitted that the website is an intermediary under Section 79. It only acts as the platform for collecting, storing and sharing the data of the registered members. Therefore, it is not responsible for any disputes arising between the registered members as per the terms and conditions of the scheme.
  • The respondent’s counsel submitted that the accused and the registered users had access to the suspended profile of the accused. The accused’s account on showed that the profile is unavailable. More so, the company has made false claims of suspending the profile.
  • The profile data of the complainant’s daughter and the accused shows that no party had expressed interest in each other’s profile. The website acted beyond the role of an intermediary by pushing the negotiations between the parties.

Opinion of the Bench

  • The allegations against the website are very grave. Moreover, an intermediary cannot escape the investigation merely due to the protection available under Section 79 of the Information Technology Act, 2000.
  • The accused company is required to verify the details of the registered members before publishing their profile on the platform or sharing the details with other members. The investigation will further determine the liability of the intermediary in this respect.
  • Further, the investigation will also reveal the responsibilities of the service provider towards their customers. In addition, it can unearth other cases of cheating and fraud by the petitioner.

Final Decision

  • As a result, the court dismissed the petition.