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Supreme Court: WhatsApp chats cannot be considered as evidence in a Court of Law
Deyasini Das 16 Jul 2021

Supreme Court: WhatsApp chats cannot be considered as evidence in a Court of Law

The Apex court on July 14, 2021, stated that there is no evidential value of any chats or messages exchanged between people over WhatsApp. The court relied upon the statement ‘Popularity is not a measure of reliability’ and specifically noted that the originator of any such chats or messages cannot be tied to them, in maters pertaining to partnership business administered by agreements. 

"What is evidential value of WhatsApp messages these days? Anything can be created and deleted on social media these days. We don't attach any value to the WhatsApp messages," this above statement was made by the bench consisting of Chief Justice of India, N V Ramana and Justices Hrishikesh Roy and A S Bopanna. 

The main issue relates to a Concession Agreement made on December 2,2016 between South Delhi Municipal Corporation and a combined corporate trust comprising A2Z Infraservices and other entity for the transportation and collection of waste materials. A2Z Infraservices further entered into another agreement with Quippo Infrastructure on April 28, 2017. The agreement stated that a part of the contracted work was to be carried out by the new company and all payments received by A2Z would be deposited in an escrow account from which further payments would be mate to other parties. 

A2Z Infraservises on May 28,2020 terminated the contractual agreement, thus Quippo Infrastructures moved the Calcutta HC on September 14,2020 for appointment of arbitral panel. On January 14, 2021 the respective parties agreed on an arbitrator to solve the issue relating to the contractual agreement between them. 

While hearing the matter, a single bench judge of Calcutta HC was informed by the Quippo’s counsel about a WhatsApp chat of March 19,2020 where A2Z admitted that a payment of Rs 8.18 crore still due to Quippo. An email from the year 2018 was also showed by the counsel which clearly displayed A2z’s willingness in depositing all monies received from SDMC in an escrow account. Even though A2Z informed the high court on their behalf that the messages resented were fabricated and forged the bench directed, to deposit all receivables from South Delhi Municipal Corporation with regards to Master Service Agreement in the escrow account, also subjected to arbitral award by the arbitral tribunal.

Senior advocate Ranjit Kumar on behalf of A2Z narrated to the Supreme Court that the agreement got terminated earlier and the dispute was referred for arbitration, but still the high court asked to deposit all receivables from SDMC to the escrow account. The contention made by the counsel was that the high court should not only believe a WhatsApp message which was proved to be fabricated earlier, thus his client was not liable to pay workers engaged in Delhi’s solid waste collection. 

Ritin Rai, senior advocate on behalf of Quippo told the court that according to the agreement and for equitable distribution the escrow account was created between the parties. Although the bench led by CJI Ramana observed that for what reason even after termination of agreement one party should deposit money in the escrow account also taking into account that the matter was already referred to the arbitrator. 

The bench added, that prima facie it was not satisfied with the directions given by high court regarding the deposition of money in the escrow account. The purported messages over WhatsApp in question was not considered by the bench and directed the parties to go before an arbitrator as they will be bound to receive some kind of arbitral award. 

However, since Quippo stood persistent on its stand, a notice was issued by the bench asking them to file a reply for the petition filed by A2Z. 

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SANDEEP KARWA   2 Aug 2021 6:11pm
Can i get the supreme court judgment copy for above case . WhatsApp chats cannot be considered as evidence in a Court of Law
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