The Bombay High Court, while hearing an application filed by SBI Cards and Payment Services, held that serving of a legal notice through WhatsApp is valid.
Rohidas Jadhav, a Nalasopara resident, has been a credit card defaulter who was evading the bank had not only received the notice in a PDF file but also opened it and read its contents. Jadhav’s Credit Card dues were of Rs. 1.17 Lakh.
Justice Patel said that “(Jadhav) was served by an authorized officer by sending a PDF and message to his mobile number as a WhatsApp message. For the purposes of service of notice under Order XXI Rule 22 of the Code of Civil Procedure, I will accept this. I do so because the icon indicators clearly show that not only was the message and attachment delivered but that both were opened.”
Advocate Murlidhar Kale, counsel for the company, said that the bank representative sent Jadhav a message informing him about the next date of hearing along with a lawyer's notice in a PDF. The blue ticks on the message revealed that Jadhav had received the message and read it.
In 2010, Jadhav had Credit Card dues of Rs. 85,000. In 2011, in the following arbitration proceedings, he was ordered to pay back the amount along with 8 percent interest. When he was unable to make the payment again, the bank filed an execution application in 2015 to enforce the award. The amount due now stands at 1.17 Lakh. Since then, the bank had been trying to serve the notice about the litigation on Jadhav, over the past two years.
Earlier this year, a Delhi metropolitan magistrate had allowed a woman to serve the summons in a domestic violence case on her estranged husband in Australia via WhatsApp. The Court had said that “the double tick” on WhatsApp showed that the summons has been delivered.
Similarly, a notice is served either in person or through registered post. Following the enactment of the Information Technology Act, which recognizes electronic communication as evidence, Courts have allowed parties in a litigation to serve legal notice through email, and pdf format in WhatsApp.