New Delhi: The Allahabad high court extended on Thursday the relief provided to the makers of smartphone Freedom 251 and directed that no coercive steps should be taken against the three principals of the company until the next date of hearing.

Noida-based Ringing Bells Pvt. Ltd is the maker of the what’s claimed to be the world’s cheapest smartphone priced at 251.

A bench comprising justices B.K. Narayan and R.N. Mishra sought a reply from the Uttar Pradesh government, where the FIR against the firm alleging a case of cheating was filed.

The court also allowed the petitioners to file an application for release of their passport which was surrendered under an earlier order.

Advocate Abhishek Vikram, counsel for Ringing Bells Pvt. Ltd, said: “We are happy with the order. We shall now press for quashing of the FIR as it lacks merit. The FIR is a tool to derail the timely launch of flagship product of the company. Keeping this mind, the court has directed for no coercive steps to be taken against us."

Despite the allegation of cheating against them, Ringing Bells is going ahead with the launch of the smartphone.

“We have nothing to hide and have full faith in the judicial process. We are open to scrutiny by any government agency. The company remains committed to its promise of delivering the smartphone for 251 by the end of June," Vikram added.

On 21 March, member of Parliament Kirit Somaiya lodged a police complaint under Section 420 (cheating) in Noida against officials of the company for placing allegedly misleading advertisements of the phone in national and regional newspapers and collecting money through a ponzi scheme.

The accused Mohit Kumar, Dharna Garg and Ashok Chadha then moved the Allahabad high court for quashing of the first information report filed by Somaiya and interim protection against arrest.

On 30 March, the court ordered that no coercive action should be taken against the three accused. The accused were also directed to submit their passports within 24 hours.

The company had said a case of cheating cannot be maintained as it had already refunded the advance of 84 crore that was collected from customers in the last week of February. It will now accept cash on delivery.

In this regard, a status report submitted by the police on 4 April had confirmed that all the money collected as advance from customers had been duly refunded by the company.

The case will be heard next on 18 May.

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