According to a recent decision by the Karnataka High Court, Google reviews cannot be used to establish that a person is a frequent criminal because they lack any value as legal evidence.
The court noticed this while considering a criminal motion for anticipatory bail in a cheating case. The High Court Government Pleader (HCGP) objected to the petition because the petitioner was a habitual offender, and this could be seen in Google searches, which revealed that he had also defrauded several people in the past.
However, the bench of Justice Rajendra Badamikar rejected this defense and granted the petitioner bail under specific restrictions after considering the other facts and circumstances in the case.
Google Reviews were denied as proof by the Judge
While talking about the judgment, the court said, “I do not find any impediment to admit the petitioner for anticipatory bail, and the apprehension raised by the learned HCGP can be meted out by imposing certain conditions.”
At the CEN Crime Police Station in Ramanagara district, a case was filed under the Indian Penal Code’s Sections 420, 419 (penalty for cheating by personation), and Sections 66(C) and 66(D) of the ITA (Information Technology Act), 2008.
The complaint was made by a woman who worked in the lamp oil industry and claimed that she had communicated with Om Pratap Singh, the petitioner and a supplier of liquid paraffin. She asserted that even though she sent the petitioner Rs 52,39,400 via NEFT, she only received products worth Rs 26,31,611 in return.
She claimed that after that, she made repeated attempts to get in touch with the petitioner, but he never responded, forcing her to report him to the police.
The petitioner visited the Principal Civil Judge and JMFC Court, Magadi, Ramanagara, after suspecting his arrest in the matter. However, they rejected his request for pre-arrest bail. He then filed a High Court appeal.
The petitioner’s attorney made the case that the petitioner did not intend to defraud the complainant and that the delay in supply was caused due to the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia since he had to get the supply of products from a foreign nation.
Further informing the court that the petitioner had already sent Rs 8 lakh to the complainant’s account, the attorney additionally gave the court his word that the remaining Rs 16 lakh would be paid in due time.
The court was not able to find a violation of section 419
The court determined that even though the petitioner had received the money intended for the supply of the products, the court could not find that Section 419 IPC had been violated in the present case because there had been no impersonation.
The record showed that there had been a transaction between the parties and that they had already given one-third of the money back to the complainant, the court further noted.
As a result, the court granted the petitioner anticipatory bail in exchange for executing a personal bond of Rs. 2,000,00,000 with one surety for the same amount, as long as it satisfied the investigating officer or the relevant trial court. The court also imposed conditions to assure the petitioner’s attendance and cooperation throughout the investigation.