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Does The Serving Of Summons Through Whatsapp Is Valid?

A summons is an officially issued document that is released by any Court on an individual or an entity who may be involved in a legal proceeding. It is a document issued either for the appearance or for producing a document or an item which may be issued to an accused person or witness.

In civil lawsuits, a summons is issued by to the defendant in the lawsuit, requiring his or her presence to defend a case. If the summons is not duly served then no action can be taken against the defendant. And, If defendant fails to attend court after receiving summons, he will be ex-parte by the Court.

The Code of Criminal Procedure,1973 and Code of Civil Procedure ,1908 both deal with the summons -

  • Section 27 and Order V of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 deal with ‘Service of Summons’ on the defendant/Respondent.

  • Section 61 of the Criminal Procedure Code states that every summons issued by the Court shall be in writing, in duplicate along with the signature of the Presiding Officer of such Court or by such an officer as is authorized by the High Court and shall bear the seal of the High Court.

  • Thus, Sections 61 to 69 of Cr.P.C deals with service of summons on accused and witness.

Summons By Electronic Means

The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, in Central Electricity Regulatory Commission Vs. National Hydroelectric Power Corporation Ltd., (2010) 10 SCC 280], permitted the service of Notice by email along with the ordinary mode of serving notice. The Court directed that in commercial litigation and in those cases where the Advocates seek urgent interim reliefs, service of notices may be effected by E-mail, in addition to normal mode of service. The Courts have inducted the “electronic means” in their respective rules in order to speed up the summons process.

Summons By Whatsapp

The court expanded the scope of electronic media by using Whatsapp to serve summons. In Tata Sons Limited & Ors vs John Does, CS(COMM) 1601/2016, Delhi High Court permitted the right to serve summons to the defendant via Whatsapp texts as well as by emails to a defendant.

In a recent case, Delhi High Court allowed a woman to serve the summons to her estranged husband who was living in Australia via Whatsapp. Moreover, the court considered “double-tick” as valid delivery of summons.

*In another case, Bhim Rathke vs Mr. R.K. Sharma on 22 February 2018 Special Judge of Patiala House Courts, New Delhi dismissed the application of complainant who sought the usage of email and Whatsapp for serving summons. Rejecting the application, the Hon’ble Court pointed out that the court system does not have the facility to effect the service through electronic mode. Curiously enough, it is important to note that claiming the usage of Whatsapp or email is not a matter of right of the applicant rather it is the discretion of the court to grant permission for the same.

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