You be the Judge: How an American woman won $2 million from a matrimonial site

Advertisements that misrepresents is the same thing as cheating, and rights need to be enforced by taking advantage of the law

Last fortnight, we asked if job-seekers, when sent off on smoke-and-mirror interviews, are entitled to judicial relief. Most Moneylifers must have said, ‘So what?’ It’s a small thing, after all. Herein lies the rub. One has a right not to be cheated. The right does not specify the quantum of loss (though Indian law does not recognise losses under Rs50/-). Misrepresentation is cheating. And rights need to be enforced.

We go back to 2006, when a matrimonial site in America promised, not just a honeymoon, but almost the moon itself! “Join our scheme and stop driving around in that old car, when you can be driven around in a Rolls Royce,” they said. In other words, ‘We will get you a rich spouse’!

A dear old lady, a 60-year-young widow, opted to join. For a long time, nothing happened... except a few dates, with supposedly eligible and RICH grooms-to-be. She met a few men, obviously hoping to meet Mr Right. Until one day, she realised that the ‘international banker’ she had gone out with was no more than an interpreter at a bank. A clerk. Without the Rolls or any other fancy conveyance. In this case, she had, fortunately for her, paid money to enrol. There was a definite breach of contract. Lies, lies and more lies.

The dear woman was made of sterner stuff. She sued.

Now,You be the judge.
Consider the facts. She was made an offer, through an advertisement, word-of-mouth or any other means. She accepted the offer. Paid the fees. She expected the promised service, in return. She put faith in the organisation. They not only failed her but fooled her. That is what the court would look at. The deceit. The fraud. The trickery.

However, there is one thing to take a note of. Free services, when offered, may be difficult to pin down. There should be some compensation. Only then can one prove reneging on a contract."

So what happened to the old lady and her suit?
This was in America and she won. Two million dollars. That’s Rs12 crore! With that sort of money, who wants to get remarried?

Of late, we, in India, have woken up to such ‘schemes’. Incorrect, misleading advertisements are being looked into. A few years ago, Citibank offered customers a free air-ticket on a certain value of Diwali shopping. It got its numbers wrong, because thousands of people qualified for the bonanza. The Bank tried to wiggle out of the commitment blaming a third party for the mistake. When complaints piled up, Moneylife’s editor took up the matter with the Reserve Bank of India. Its customer service department said, a promise is a promise and the Bank was told to pay up, at a stiff loss to itself. Moneylife has been in the forefront, when financial products and insurance matters are to be pursued; and with success.

So why not with other will-o-the-wisp offers? Does the value have to be in thousands or lakhs of rupees, to be considered ripe for the picking? Are not everyday products fit for the scanner? How much different is a pyramid scheme from one that promises an impossibility? Fairness creams are under pressure. Why not other products?

Whether it is the manipulated job-seeker or the hope-filled widow, the law is on the books, ready to be used. The question that most would ask is whether it is worth following it up. The answer is in two parts. One such demeanour may be ignored but, when they add up, a lot of persons get affected. Class action may be the solution and the brand new Companies Act 2013 has, finally, opened the door to class action litigation in India.

The second part is a bit more involved. If you care not for the small infractions of law, how long will it be before larger ones become impossible to manage? At a recent conference of the US-INDIA Business Council, the common argument was that India has enough laws; more than enough. The problem is implementation. How long are we going to be made monkeys of?

Bapoo Malcolm is a practising lawyer in Mumbai. Please email your comments to [email protected] or [email protected]


Are you afraid of the cost of kidney treatment?

Kidney care is taught to patients and also made affordable  by this organisation, says

Premium Content
Monthly Digital Access


Already A Subscriber?
Yearly Digital+Print Access


Moneylife Magazine Subscriber or MSSN member?

Yearly Subscriber Login

Enter the mail id that you want to use & click on Go. We will send you a link to your email for verficiation
Will readjusting the Indian Standard Time- IST help save energy?

Several countries use daylight savings by readjusting clocks depending upong the season. Readjusting the Indian Standard Time or IST would greatly help and save energy if it was done simply by a 30 minute change on a national scale

There are two kinds of people who keep appointments: one who generally comes late and would sheepishly follow the Indian Standard Time (IST), and the other follows BST (British Standard Time), which means arriving punctually!


This reference is made to illustrate the proposal Tarun Gogoi, chief minister of Assam, made to reset the time in his state by one hour, ahead of the IST, in order to save energy and increase productivity. What has not been highlighted in his proposal is that the sunrise in Assam will be about one hour ahead of rest of the country. This is the crux of the issue.


Apparently, in response to this proposal, DP Sengupta, visiting professor at the National Institute of Advanced Studies, and some of his colleagues concluded that it would greatly help and save energy if it was done simply by a 30 minute change, but on a national scale. The detailed presentation on the subject is expected to be published in Current Science, a journal published by the Indian Academy of Science.


Their contention is that two time zones would create chaos in a country where around 350 million people still use kerosene lamps at night, as they do not have access to electricity. Prof Sengupta has stated that such a two-time zone would cause accidents in places where there are manually operated railway systems and so on. His suggests shifting the IST meridian eastward from 82.5E longitude in UP (Uttar Pradesh) to 90E in Assam/ Bengal border, and advance the IST by 30 minutes. The total energy consumption would be substantial, estimated at 2.7 billion units of electricity.


We do not know if the Assam chief minister can unilaterally change the timing in his state because if the intention is simply to take advantage of the sunrise, it can be brought about by local practice i.e. people can advance their clock by one hour. In fact, they may even have a mock trial on their own and see how it improves the situation.


However, the issue of daylight saving is not new. This is practised all over the world, with Australia, Brazil, Canada, Malaysia, Russia and Zaire having established time zones. For instance, Australia has three time zones; Canada has seven time zones; US has seven; Malaysia has two; Russia has four and Zaire has two zones. These countries are large. All the timings, internationally, are based on plus/minus of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).


In the case of US, they have Eastern Standard Time-EST (-05.00 hrs); central (-06.00 hrs), mountain (-07.00 hrs) and Pacific (-08.00 hrs) from GMT. In addition, they have, again, different time zones in case of Alaska East and West and Hawaii which is -10.00 hrs of GMT. In all these cases, these are fixed time differential. On the top of this, daylight saving time adjustments take place on the onset of summer/ winter. Naturally, when these were introduced decades ago, they may also have faced various issues and overcome them.


Now reverting back to India, where astrology is practiced extensively, time of birth is very important to prepare the horoscope. Most knowledgeable and practising astrologers "rectify" any given horoscopes, for their own satisfaction and accuracy of predictions, by obtaining information on actual “sunrise" time at birth.


Prof Sengupta's claim that a one hour push ahead of IST by Tarun Gogoi and having two time zones would create havoc in our present system is understandable, considering the amount of work involved, but to state that a 30-minute difference would be better and more suitable and advantageous. The fact that this would help in terms of saving electricity is worth a further study.


In any case, most energetic and disciplined people who want to effectively utilise early morning sunrise advantage, simply can do so, by getting up at the desired time. It is not necessary that we could achieve this just because the IST has been pushed ahead by 30 or 60 minutes!


(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce. He was also associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US.)



shadi katyal

3 years ago

It is an interesting debate but nothing is said about the productivity. If I recall before partition Bengal had 30 min difference so why was it changed?
Is India run by our astrologers and thus no progress. What kind of lame excuses we have?
It is true that India is the only nation with half hour difference while rest of the world is one hour.
USA has not suffered any draw backs which are given in the argument. She has every year Day Light time so why are we
debating. try it and find out.
Why sudden road blocks???

We are listening!

Solve the equation and enter in the Captcha field.

To continue

Sign Up or Sign In


To continue

Sign Up or Sign In



The Scam
24 Year Of The Scam: The Perennial Bestseller, reads like a Thriller!
Moneylife Magazine
Fiercely independent and pro-consumer information on personal finance
Stockletters in 3 Flavours
Outstanding research that beats mutual funds year after year
MAS: Complete Online Financial Advisory
(Includes Moneylife Magazine and Lion Stockletter)