Online association fully backs CEO

MUMBAI: Following the arrest of CEO Avnish Bajaj in the wake of the MMS sex scandal case recently, the Internet and Online Association (IOA) has come out strongly in support of him.

Even as support for Bajaj has been coming in from various industry associations, the Delhi High Court today granted him conditional bail on two sureties of Rs 100,000 each.

IOA president Preeti Desai said, "The arrest of Avnish Bajaj despite the full cooperation extended to the police by him and Baazee officials is a drastic step."

Desai further said that IOA shared the concern of the authorities and would like to see the enactment of legislation that will make the Internet a safe and rewarding medium for Indians. She added, "It is necessary to revisit the IT Act 2000, as some of its loopholes and ambiguities provide ample scope for misrepresentation. It's also crucial for law-enforcers to understand in entirety how the online market place works so that they may be able to better distinguish between originators and intermediaries and evaluate the culpability of each link in the chain."

Desai urged the government to reinforce the crucial distinction between illegal infringement and authorised fair use, as well as ensure that the fundamental rights of the facilitators of online market places are protected through due process and judicial review.

IOA chairman V Ramani said, "I think too much has been said on the subject. Everybody has expressed their views stating that it is not right to arrest an online marketplace executive. There should be no more discussion. The CEO should be released immediately."

HT Media Ltd chief Internet officer Sanjay Trehan said, "The arrest of Avnish Bajaj is a retrogressive step, unbecoming of India's emerging stature as an IT superpower. The IT Act has to keep pace with the growing demands of the new media and must evolve to provide a legal framework that doesn't allow its skewed interpretation to make a travesty of justice. Obscurantism is not going to get us anywhere in a fast changing world. It's a wake up call for the Indian Internet industry, and for God's sake, free the man!"

On the other hand mOne business director Tushar Vyas voiced his concern saying, "Baazee provides a platform for buyers and sellers to transact; if I have to draw parallel Baazee would be like mall owner in the real world. Normally the shopkeeper would get convicted for the transaction not the mall owner. I think the government system needs to be sensitive toward understanding the dynamics of the online industry."

Wisden Cricinfo India MD Badri Seshadri said, "I strongly condemn the arrest of Avnish Bajaj of despite's prompt action and the full cooperation offered by him to the investigating authorities. After the arrest, the Delhi police have shown utter insensitivity in opposing bail, which has resulted in his judicial custody, and unwanted humiliation of an entrepreneur. This kind of situation should not happen in a democratic country like India. I demand that the parliamentarians take an urgent look into the act and correct the anomalies, while at the same time safeguarding the public interest."

People Group CEO Anupam Mittal had this to say, "I am very disturbed with this entire incident. I am still trying to understand all the nuances but it seems to defy common sense. At a time when the entire world is looking to India as the next big growth story, this is the last thing we need. Avnish Bajaj is a stand-up CEO who has built a very successful Internet company which is now part of the largest e-commerce company in the world. We need to applaud and praise such efforts not punish them. From a legal stand-point, I personally fail to understand how Avnish can be held liable. Does this mean that the phone manufacturer of the phone that was used to take the video is liable too? Does this mean that the telecom network on which the video was transmitted is liable too? We need to protect our entrepreneurs and managers from unnecessary harassment. We need our systems to work for the people who will shape the India of tomorrow, not against them."

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