ecommerce platforms not responsible for sellers actions
Background of the case
Criminal proceedings were initiated against the Directors of e-commerce platform, Snapdeal for selling the pharmaceutical product under the brand name SUHAGRA-100 containing Sildenafil Citrate.
An individual, Mr. Manjunath placed online order of SUHAGRA-100 Tablets and received it on November 20 2014, from Snapdeal. The product was manufactured and sold by M/s Adept Biocare, a proprietary concern of one Mr. Amandeep Chawla. In his complaint, the Drug Controller alleged that Snapdeal exhibited SUHAGRA Tablets for sale and provided a platform to the seller and purchaser. As Snapdeal had no drug license to sell SUHAGRA-100, it amounts to violation under Section 18(c) of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 (‘DC Act’), which is punishable under Section 27(b)(ii) of the DC Act.
The online marketplace is not expected to be aware of all the products sold on its website. The e-commerce platform/ intermediary is only required to maintain a robust system to inform sellers on its platform of responsibilities and obligations under applicable laws to discharge its role and obligations as an intermediary.
Snapdeal/intermediary or its directors / officers, would not be liable for any action or inaction on the part of a vendor/seller making use of the intermediary facilities in terms of a website or a marketplace.
The only liability of an intermediary under Section 79(3)(b) of the IT Act is to take down third-party content upon receipt of either a court order or a notice by an appropriate government authority. The Snapdeal has already complied with its obligation by removing the offending item.
Snapdeal exercised ‘due diligence’ under Section 79(2)(c) of the IT Act read in conjunction with Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2011.
Snapdeal or its Directors cannot be made liable for offences punishable under Section 27(b)(ii) of the DC Act since the ingredients of Section 18 (c) of the DC Act were not fulfilled. Snapdeal has neither manufactured, sold, or distributed any drug or cosmetic. The manufacturer and seller of SUHAGRA-100 did all such acts. more