To quickly recapitulate the facts surrounding this order, one might remember the FIR that was filed against Cleartrip by Travelocity in late 2009. Travelocity is a foreign company that acquired Travelguru, who in turn had acquired Desiya (another online travel agency web portal) in 2007 for data theft.
Essentially, the charge was that Desiya employees, including former CEO of Desiya, Amit Taneja, had criminally conspired to hand over data belonging to its company to Cleartrip. This resulted in the arrest of Amit Taneja and Stuart Crighton, CEO of Cleatrip in August, 2010. A suit was filed in July, 2011 in the Bombay High Court claiming damages of $37.5 million (over Rs 165 crore).
FIR & Chargesheet:
To provide some clarity by means of chronology, it should be pointed out that initially, an FIR was filed in December 2009. As Medianama reports, the FIR charged Desiya employees and Amit Taneja of sharing sensitive and secret information with Cleartrip CEO, Stuart Crighton including intellectual property, trade secrets, databases and in particular, the data related to hotel business model, projections and proprietary information.
The chargesheet, as a follow up to the FIR, included charges of criminal breach of trust, misrepresentation and cheating, directed towards Sanjeet Singh, Regional Manager (North) and Imran Ansari, Travel Consultant as well as separate charges of collusion, abetment and misappropriation. It also stated that Taneja had been offered a 1.5% equity stake by Cleartrip in exchange for the information and that losses faced by Travelocity amounted to Rs.20 crore.
The chargesheet also made a reference to money laundering, which pushed Alok Mittal, joint commissioner of police, Gurgaon to state that the police may refer the to the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
The case was scheduled for hearing on July 20th, 2011. Medianama reports that they received a statement from Cleartrip stating that the Bombay High Court rejected the plea for injunction and damages, based on the suit filed by Travelocity. One feels however that there is more to come from this case, given the far-flung charges and the insistence that there have been serious economic irregularities on the part of the defendants, aside from the intellectual property theft claims. We will keep an eye out for developments in this case.