The Allahabad high court on Thursday extended the relief provided to the makers of smartphone Freedom 251, said to be the world's cheapest smartphone, and said no coercive steps should be taken against the them until the next hearing.
A few days ago, BJP MLA Kirit Somaiya filed an FIR against Mohit Goel and Ashok Chadha in Noida police station for allegedly duping customers. The FIR was filed under the section 420 of IPC. It also stated the company misused the tricolour and has not registered with the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS).
In their first hearing, the high court had given the petitioners interim relief and asked the UP government to file a report by 5 April. The police filed a report saying that all the money that Ringing Bells had taken during the pre-booking of the phone has duly been refunded as the company has switched to the cash-on-delivery model. On this basis, the court decided to give the owners of the company extended relief till the next hearing on 18 April and allowed them to move the application for release of the passport.
The division bench of justice B K Narayan and justice R N Mishra asked the police and the responders for further reports indicating if the offence of section 420 of IPC is valid for this instance. They also added that the company should be given a chance to fulfil their commitment.
"We are very happy with today's order. We shall now press for quashing of the FIR as there is no merit in the FIR and extraneous factors have gone into lodging of this FIR. This FIR is a strategy to derail the timely launch of flagship product of the company. Keeping this critical aspect in mind, the Hon'ble High Court has directed that no coercive step should be taken that affects the business of the company, apart from allowing the liberty to move an application for release of passport," said Ringing Bell's advocate Abhishek Vikram in a statement.
"The company has already sold 28,000 units of its other products and has developed innovative strategies to meet its cost for delivering the smartphone for Rs. 251 to its customers. The aim of the Company is to reduce the digital divide between Urban and rural India by aiming to sell the smartphone at Rs. 251", he added.
Recently, Freedom 251 makers posted on Facebook that they have started sending confirmation messages to the people who have registered for the phone. Although there were multiple probes launched by the government of India to investigate Ringing Bells.