Following its counterparts, Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw of the Delhi High Court has approved the use of technology and social Networks like WhatsApp, SMS and Email to serve summons in judicial proceedings in the matter of Tata Sons Ltd. and Ors. vs. John Doe(s) and Ors.
The court said that “the plaintiffs are permitted to serve the defendant...by text message as well as through WhatsApp as well as by email and to file an affidavit of the service.”
Social network applications like WhatsApp has a remarkable feature of ‘double- blue ticks’ that enables the sender of a message to know that the receiver has read the message. This feature suppresses any plausibility of the defendant denying the service of court’s summons.
In a case hearing filed by Tata Sons contending that since December 2015, 35 unidentified email ids were used to send “unwarranted, defamatory and baseless allegations questioning the integrity and educational qualification” of one of the officials of the company. The company sought a permanent injunction to halt the circulation of these emails and block those ids indefinitely.
The court also ordered three internet service providers to appear before it by serving summons to their address. The court’s orders issued last December had compelled the service providers to disclose the identities of 35 anonymous email addresses from which the emails originated in a sealed cover.
After multiple failed tries to reach the fourth respondent at their address, the judicial team located Ashok Kumar Agarwal through ‘Truecaller” app and the summons were sent via WhatsApp message, SMS and an email as they couldn’t be reached at their residential address.
In April, the Bombay High Court had authorised the service of summons on the respondent via text message, determining that the rigid and ancient procedures must give way to methods that are embraced by people in contemporary times.
Senior IAS officer Ashok Khemka, while heading a quasi-judicial body in Haryana commented that an email id or the phone number of a person can also be considered as their address in present times.
The Delhi HC followed these footsteps and recognised the resort of technology and social media as an improved and more convenient method of notifying a person about their legal affairs.
These verdicts by Indian courts accentuate how the judiciary has adapted to the modern routes of extending its reach to the public from the antique mode of physically sending a written notice or a telegram to inform or summon a person in a judicial proceeding. Such decisions exhibit the attempt of Indian judiciary to match the constantly transforming means of communication.
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