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December 14, 2001
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Kidneys on sale in cyberspace

K Giriprakash

Last month, two human kidneys were put up for sale at for Rs 500,000 and Rs 20,000 each. The offensive bid has now been pulled out though it took a month for the promoters of the site to detect the listing., a subsidiary of the New York-based inc is, according to its promoters, India’s largest online consumer-facing auction website promoting e-commerce. It is funded by some of the biggest names in the industry including Newscorp, Chrysalis Capital, Viventures, LN Mittal and ICICI. chief marketing officer Gautam Thakar told Business Standard that in case such offensive advertisements get listed, they are immediately deleted once they are noticed.

Thakar said, “While it is difficult to monitor the hundreds and thousands of items, we ensure deletion of any offensive or illegal item that is brought to our notice,” he said. In one case, an 18-year-old boy put up his virginity on auction, but it was detected and removed later.

“As with other auction sites worldwide, it is the community of buyers and sellers that monitor the site activity and provide feedback on non-serious sellers.

In this case, we promptly deleted the auction and have also taken steps to deactivate the user. This auction clearly features as an illegal and an offensive item and does not allow these items on sale on its site,” Thakar said.

Such items form a negligible and an infrequent proportion of the Rs 100 million of transaction value that we do on a monthly basis," Thakar said.

The consumer to consumer auction site allows one to register oneself and either buy or sell a product independently. acts as a trading platform but its quality department routinely goes through the site to check whether any of the products on sale violate its trading norms.

Thakar said is a consumer to consumer trading site which allows consumers as well as small and large businesses to leverage the internet as the most efficient medium to buy and sell products.

" is merely a virtual platform in this entire process and plays the role of an intermediary that brings buyers and sellers together. As clearly called out in our terms and conditions, the liability with respect to all items listed for sale lies with the seller and the site terms prohibit the seller from selling anything that can be deemed illegal or offensive," Thakar said.

According to a legal expert, though auction sites cannot be entirely faulted for such mistakes, they can be hauled up before courts for being abetters to the crime. "Sale of human organs is banned in India and hence anybody associated in any manner with such deals can surely be hauled up before courts," one of's laywers, Sanjay Bhatia said.

In the case of, the kidney of a person of 21-year-old from Pune was for sale for as much as one month with the starting price being Rs 20,000 with bid increment being Rs 500 and in another case the bid value was Rs 500,000.

Bhatia said the technology which makes the promoters of such auction sites to increase the hits can sometimes land them in trouble because consumers can misuse it for their needs.

An official of a portal which has an auction site said such sites should use filters to keep away pranksters who can damage their image through such acts. "It is in their own interest that they should do some sort of policing. Else, their site can be taken to the cleaners," he said.

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