A Division Bench of the Delhi High Court today made some key observations on jurisdictional issues in matters where the cause of action lies in that nebulous space called the World Wide Web. The judgement comes on a referral made by a Single Judge of the court last year in the Banyan Tree Case, which Kruttika had covered and analysed in a superb piece that you can read here.
In summary, the court held that merely accessing a website in Delhi would not satisfy the exercise of jurisdiction by the Delhi court. Rather, it has to be shown that the defendant "purposefully availed" itself of such jurisdiction, by demonstrating that the use of the website was with intent to conclude a commercial transaction with the site user, and such use resulted in injury or harm to the plaintiff. (Image from here)
The matter has now been placed again before the Single Judge to decide if in view of the law laid down in this judgement, and on the facts of the suit at hand, the plaintiff has been able to show prima facie that this court has the jurisdiction to entertain the suit. For a brief discussion of teh facts of the case, I invite you to read Kruttika's original post on this issue.
This post is more in the nature of an update, and will be followed by a lengthier analysis shortly.
However, for those of you who are curious to know more, I quote some key observations made by the Court in CS (OS) No.894/2008, which you can access in full from the Delhi High Court website here (choose Nov 23 2009 under the date-wise section) --
1. Mere accessibility of the Defendants' website in Delhi would not enable a court to exercise jurisdiction. A passive website, with no intention to specifically target audiences outside the State where the host of the website is located, cannot vest the forum court with jurisdiction. To such extent, the court has overruled the proposition in Casio India Co. Limited v. Ashita Tele Systems Pvt. Limited 2003 (27) PTC 265 (Del).
2. ...[M]ere hosting of a website which can be accessible from anyone from within the jurisdiction of the court is not sufficient... Also a mere posting of an advertisement by the Defendant depicting its mark on a passive website which does not enable the Defendant to enter into any commercial transaction with the viewer in the forum state cannot satisfy the requirement of giving rise to a cause of action in the forum state.
3. The Plaintiff would have to show that the Defendant “purposefully availed” itself of the jurisdiction of the forum court. For this it would have to be prima facie shown that the nature of the activity indulged in by the Defendant by the use of the website was with an intention to conclude a commercial transaction with the website user and that the specific targeting of the forum state by the Defendant resulted in an injury or harm to the Plaintiff within the forum state.
This is what caught my eye at first read. Be assured you have not heard the end of the Banyan Tree!