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WhatsApp Messages Can't Be Used as Evidence Without Certificate: Delhi HC

The screenshot of WhatsApp conversations cannot be taken into account while dealing with a Writ under Article 226, the Court said

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Staff Writer, TLR

Published on July 6, 2024, 13:31:22

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The Delhi High Court recently stated that WhatsApp conversations cannot be considered as evidence without a proper certificate as required under the Evidence Act, 1872.


The HC was considering a plea by Dell International Services India Private Ltd against a December 12, 2023, order of the Delhi State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission, which upheld the district consumer commission’s July 2023 order.
The District Commission had declined to accept Dell's written statement because it was filed after the limitation period. The complainant had lodged a complaint against Dell in 2022.


Dell submitted a screenshot of a conversation between itself and the complainant to demonstrate that it had not received the complete copy of the complaint and its annexures. This was handed over to Dell’s counsel before the District Commission on January 31, 2023.
In its order dated July 2, a single judge bench of Justice Subramonium Prasad noted that the District Commission had thoroughly examined the matter and requested postal receipts for the documents sent with the summons, which Dell received on December 23, 2022.


The HC stated: "The District Commission analysed the documents sent with the summons and postal charges, and concluded that a complete set of documents was sent along with the summons and received by the Petitioner (Dell) on 23.12.2022."


The District Commission then held that Dell's application for condonation of a seven-day delay in filing its written statement was "not bona fide."
Justice Prasad subsequently remarked: "The screenshot of WhatsApp conversations cannot be considered by this Court in a Writ Petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. Moreover, there is no evidence that these conversations were submitted before the State Commission, as they are not referenced in the current Writ Petition nor discussed in the State Commission's Order. In any case, WhatsApp conversations cannot be admitted as evidence without the necessary certificate under the Evidence Act, 1872."


The HC also noted that Dell filed its Written Statement only on January 31 last year, claiming it had not received a complete set of documents with the summons, despite a complete set being served alongside the summons.


"In light of the above, this Court finds no reason to overturn the District Commission's decision to reject the request for condonation of delay in filing the written submission. Accordingly, the Writ Petition is dismissed," the HC concluded.

 

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