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Manav Kalia (Arguing my own cases..)     21 September 2011

Can the sms contents be retrieved through service provider?

Am going thru DV and divorce. Wife has quoted some SMS sent by me to her. They have been quoted out of context and selectively. I have my own copy of SMS stored with me. I wanted to know the validity of SMS stored in phone in court.

I am aware that service providers store client data for many years as phone records. But according to my information they would only contain a list of calls and SMS to and from the phone.

What I want to know is if the service providers would also store the contents of the SMS sent to and from the phone. Also if the court would accept SMS stored in phones as evidence, as I am aware of some software that can be used to send fake SMS to and from phones.

If anyone has an idea about this pls respond and help me. Thanks in advance..


 76 Replies

Alok Tholiya (self employed)     21 September 2011

Even I woulfd like to know

Rohit Shukla (Engineer)     21 September 2011

Hi, sms are strong proof as it cannot be altered. Unfortunately the sms records/data are not stored beyond six months by any service provider. However call data records (CDR's) are stored for 07 years. For furter info, chk on TRAI regulations for services providers.

"I am aware of some software that can be used to send fake SMS to and from phones" - What does it achieve if the source can be easily traced as the illegitimate ones? & why software, go on any free website like way2sms, get registered and carry on with the same tactics which your wife is doing? 

Listen there are 100 better ways to do/counter what your wife is doing but my point is what you want to achieve out of that coz when it comes to prooving, it would be herculean task for any non-tech savvy lawyer to prove. So chill, let her falsify the things, you just counter with strong contradictory techniques & she & her lawyer would be nailed for their lies.



Manav Kalia (Arguing my own cases..)     21 September 2011

Thanks@rohit for the answer. Appreciate your advice. I need specific answers to two questions: How long back would the service providers store SMS data? {you are putting this date at six months back) Whether this record would contain only the list of SMS sent and received or also contain the content of the SMS sent and received? I understand that this is more of a tech question rather than a legal one, but still would be highly obliged if I could get this info. Thanks.. :-)

Advocate Rajkumarlaxman (Advocacy)     21 September 2011

The contents of the sms are stored for a period specified by the TRAI to them may be one month, months, six months according to service providers clauses and terms binded by themselves. you can always get the sms contents and detail list of sms sent from your phone to other phones. 

Shonee Kapoor (Legal Evangelist - TRIPAKSHA)     21 September 2011

Hi All,


SMS Contents are not stored by any Mobile Service Provider (MSP), except on the request of an investigative agency. It is similar to phone tapping and would amount to infringement of privacy, if it were to be stored and read by all.


Now comes the question of how long the call detail records (CDRs) are stored and what info they contain.


CDRs are stored upto Seven Years by all MSPs. But they periodically shift all data on tapes and on the server maintain records for anywhere between 6 months to 1 year, this can vary on the operator and pre-paid and post-paid accounts.


The CDRs primarily contain following information:


1. The call originating from the mobile phone (Outgoing call)

2. Call terminating at the mobile phone (Incoming call)

3. SMS originating from the mobile phone (Outgoing SMS)

4. SMS terminating on the mobile phone (Incoming SMS)

5. Start time of Originating or Terminating of the call/ sms

6. Duration of the call

7. Tower ID (Which can be reduced to location within 300 meters roughly) at which the call originated and terminated.


Now comes the question of validity of that SMS as an evidence. 


An SMS stored in the Handset is an admissible evidence, but the same need to be proved as per the Indian Evidence Act 65B.


For the same a back-up/ screen shots etc needs to be taken and original handset has to be presented for inspection alongwith an affidavit.


Unless the above conditions are fulfilled, it is a tampered record, which is not admissible.


Hope that clarifies the basic queries regarding SMS as an evidence.




Shonee Kapoor

4 Like

Rohit Shukla (Engineer)     21 September 2011

@Mirage - I hope Shonee Sir has clarified almost all your doubts. I 100% agree with his statement (Given below) which is technically & most importantly legally correct

"SMS Contents are not stored by any Mobile Service Provider (MSP), except on the request of an investigative agency. It is similar to phone tapping and would amount to infringement of privacy, if it were to be stored and read by all"

& Well if you want to know the ongoing sms activity and its contents, then there are other ways to find it out while remaining in the periphery of laws :)



gaury..fight to win (Education)     21 September 2011

"SMS Contents are not stored by any Mobile Service Provider (MSP), except on the request of an investigative agency. It is similar to phone tapping and would amount to infringement of privacy, if it were to be stored and read by all"

what about sms before the request?

I have heard a defamation case filed on ground of foul sms was judged by retrieved sms from service provider.

Rohit Shukla (Engineer)     21 September 2011

C'mon .... Retrieved SMS? This is no way possible under normal circumstances (even in matrimonial suites) except in the cases which requires strict state intervention. Even for getting a phone tapped, police requires an approval from higher authorites in some cases even to the rank of Cabinet/Home secretary.

Shonee Kapoor (Legal Evangelist - TRIPAKSHA)     21 September 2011



A lot of illegal things do happen. SMS are not stored by MSP (Period) unless they get a written request from DCP/ SP.


Whether the phone was tapped/ SIM duplicated etc. are questions I am not discussing.




Shonee Kapoor

2 Like

Manav Kalia (Arguing my own cases..)     21 September 2011

Thanks guys for the answers especially @ shonee. Once I wanted divorce crazy wife and (boy) friend threatened me in person and over call and SMS to withdraw divorce as she wants to stay with me / married to me. To which my only response was to send some sarcastic SMS to her and copying same to (boy) friend and to our common friends. As an example "People say that only animals and tribals stay within a two min walk of their ex-s*xual partner of many years after separation (which is the exact case with her), not normal humans. And she is a funny cartoon for doing that and any guy involved with her is an even funnier cartoon for getting involved like in any way with a girl like that. And that threats wud only amuse me further." This is the most offensive language in any of my SMS. Now she has gone and done dv on me saying the SMS was threatening to her. I don't have the SMS received by me, only the SMS I sent. That's why was interested in knowing whether the content of SMS can be retrieved officially thru MSP. If that was the case then her allegations of threatening SMS wud not hold any water.... I know that this is a weird case and also weird requirement, but trust me this is just the tip of the iceberg with my crazy (ex) wife.... Thanks for all the help tho .. And u guys are pretty sure their is no way that SMS contents cannot be retrieved thru MSP officially, as a call of mine and her phone records? I still have the original SMS I sent to her in my phone. Will that be enough for holding up in court? All SMS and calls are over six months back. Thanks..

gaury..fight to win (Education)     21 September 2011

Respected Shonee

I am fighting dv case against my husband.He has illicit relation with some other girl which I came to know about some sms from his mobile.Moreover he has sent me many abusive sms which my advocate says will produce as evidence after summoning to Reliance.

In the above mentioned case a girl filed a case against a very reputed intellectual that he has sent some derrogatory sms to her and threatened her.But at the evidence stage all sms to her number for a certain period was retrived and found no such sms.So the Court let the intellectual free.

please let me know what atcual rule is .I shall be thankful.

Manav Kalia (Arguing my own cases..)     21 September 2011

As a concisement of my previous post, I am also interested in knowing a definitive rule like gauri regarding SMS. Different people here have different views on this matter. Can the SMS in any phone be treated as definitive evidence? For example my phone would contain sarcastic SMS sent to wife. Wifes phone wud contain threatening SMS. One of the SMS has to be fake. How will court decide on which is real and which is fake. Only if the MSP records contain the SMS contents will be able rule out any fake SMS. I have an idea that u can manipulate the phone contents thru software. I have heard many contradictory views on this here and elsewhere. I wud appreciate some clear legal and technical views on this matter. Thanks..

Shonee Kapoor (Legal Evangelist - TRIPAKSHA)     21 September 2011

Gauri and Mirage,


Take this problem like this.


A alleges that B sent him an SMS at xx date and yy time. She produces some fake copy of the sms created on some computer and all. (Original is deleted presumably)


Now MSP is summoned. MSP gives the report that on xx date and yy time no SMS was sent from B's Mobile phone to A's Mobile Phone.


Case closed.


In your problem, where did the court say that the sms containing certain phrase was not found. The MSP declared that sms of certain time has no record (means no sms sent).


Hope this explains the issue.


Mirage, specially to you, have you heard of a word called forensics, this is a science which tells the truth from manipulations. Though sci-fi but true, even after multiple erasing the HDD would tell what contents had been on it. But the cost of such forensics are very high and reach of such softwares pretty limited.




Shonee Kapoor

Manav Kalia (Arguing my own cases..)     22 September 2011

Thanks @ shonee, my wife alleged threatening SMS around eight months back when I sent her sarcastic SMS explained in previous posts. And she also alleged threatening SMS two months back. As I don't have her number in my phone for the last six months I am sure on calling MSP he wud verify her two months back claim to be false. Now if I sent her a sarcastic SMS eight months back at xx date and yy time if she deleted my SMS and somehow by hook or crook inserted an SMS from my number at xx date and yy time which is threatening, then the MSP will not be able to verify that. In that case forensics wud come into play. Wud I have to pay for the forensic tests, or will the court bear the cost, since u say they are expensive? Thanks..

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