The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Web master in smut sale net

Dec. 17: From public school products to an IIT student to a multi-millionaire alumnus from Harvard.

The school sex clip scandal snared its most high-profile victim yet with Delhi police arresting today the chief executive officer of Baazee, which runs the online auction site on which video discs of the escapade were sold by the IIT student.

Police also secured a warrant against a former student of DPS, R.K. Puram, who is suspected to have indulged in the sexual act with a classmate and shot it on a mobile phone ' the first legal step related to either of the two directly involved in the scandal.

Baazee chairman and CEO Avnish Bajaj, an India-born US citizen, was arrested under Section 67 of the Information Technology Act which prohibits transmission of obscene material through electronic media.

'We have taken action against (the name of Baazee's site) because during our investigation we gathered evidence that the portal did not exercise due diligence and allowed the clip to be put on sale on their website,' said Prabhakar, the deputy commissioner of the economic offences wing of Delhi police.

Baazee tonight expressed shock and outrage over the arrest. 'It is distressing and unacceptable that the police have chosen to misdirect their energies towards Bajaj and not to the thousands of small sellers in Delhi and other places where these and other clips are being sold in roadside shops,' it said in a statement.

'We have extended all cooperation to the Delhi police team both in Mumbai and in Delhi to capture the offender.'

The portal, which acts as a meeting ground for buyers and sellers, had said it pulled the clip, which was camouflaged among magazines and books, as soon its 'community watch programme' detected the sleazy merchandise.

Others running shopping sites said the model used by the portal makes it almost impossible to keep track of the items being sold.

'It's unfair to hold the website responsible because a company like Baazee has adopted a C-to-C (customer-to-customer) e-commerce platform. On such a platform, it is virtually impossible to check all the products that are on sale,' said K. Vaitheeswaram, chief operating officer of Fabmall, a shopping site.

Fabmall uses a B-to-C (business-to-customer) e-commerce platform, which sells products from branded companies, he said.

Baazee's Bajaj was summoned by Delhi police from the US two days ago and was arrested after it was established that eight CDs of the lewd clip were sold on the site. The focus has also shifted to the teenager against whom the warrant has been issued.

Since he is a juvenile, the police have not yet decided whether to execute the warrant. The police said they would initially focus on whether the boy, who has joined another school after being expelled from DPS, had a role in circulating and selling the clip.

The boy is an avid cricketer ' a middle-order batsman as well as a medium pacer ' and was part of the Delhi Under-17 cricket squad. He was scheduled to play in a tournament in Himachal Pradesh recently but he spared the organisers the blushes by producing a letter from his family citing poor health.

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