Delivery of legal notice via WhatsApp deemed valid

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Bombay High Court recently held that the service of notice in an execution application delivered via the mobile application WhatsApp in the form of a PDF file is a valid way to serve notice under the law.

In SBI Cards & Payments Services Pvt Ltd v Rohidas Jadhav, while hearing an execution petition, Bombay High Court observed that the legal notice served via WhatsApp in PDF format was received, opened and read by the respondent as was evident from the double blue tick mark, which appears in the messaging app once a message has been delivered and read.

The high court found that the respondent was evading service of the notice under order XXI rule 22 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. Therefore, an authorized officer of the claimant, Fatema Kalyanwala, sent the notice in PDF format via WhatsApp to the respondent’s mobile number. The court accepted service of the notice indicating that the messaging app had clearly shown that the attachment had been delivered and opened.

This judgment is significant because the service procedure rules of the court state that a notice is served in person or through registered post only. However, after the enactment of the Information Technology Act, 2000, the courts have begun recognizing e-communication as a source of evidence and have allowed parties in litigation to serve notice through email as well as traditional methods.

The dispute digest is compiled by Bhasin & Co, Advocates, a corporate law firm based in New Delhi. The authors can be contacted at lbhasin@bhasinco.in or lbhasin@gmail.com. Readers should not act on the basis of this information without seeking professional legal advice.