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WhatsApp has no Evidentiary Value

 WhatsApp has no Evidentiary Value

 The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India on July 14, 2021, in A2Z Infraservices Ltd. Versus

Quippo Infrastructure Ltd. (Now Known As Viom Infra Ventures Ltd.) SLP(C) No. 8636/2021

played a significant part in yet again enlightening us on the question of the evidentiary value

of WhatsApp chats/conversations. The complexities arise as only the printouts of the

conversations may be presented in court, the nature of WhatsApp chats is largely secondary.

However, the Indian Evidence Act requires that any "electronic record" be presented in the

main form of evidence or that the document is proven by primary evidence before it may be

admitted as evidence. The Courts have time and again answered the question of whether

WhatsApp Chats have any evidentiary value or not and have emphasized and ruled that

WhatsApp chats cannot be used as evidence without a certificate under Section 65B of the

Evidence Act.

A bench of Hon’ble Mr. Chief Justice N V Ramana and Hon’ble Mr. Justice A S Bopanna

and Hon’ble Mr. Justice Hrishikesh Roy said,

"What is the 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."

"Prima facie we are not satisfied with the HC direction for depositing the money in an

escrow account. We are not considering the purported admission in WhatsApp messages. If it

is not late, then go before the arbitrator and parties would be bound by the arbitrator's

award."

Brief Facts  -

 In 2016, South Delhi Municipal Corporation and a consortium consisting of the

Respondents and another business entered into the Concession Agreement which

included the collection and transportation of waste items after they had gone through

a waste management process.

 In 2017, the Respondents entered into a Master Service Agreement with the appellant

to complete a portion of the project as a subcontractor. The parties and several other

entities, including Axis Bank Limited, entered into another arrangement called the

Escrow agreement in October, 2017. All funds received by the Respondents under the

Concession Agreement would be placed in an Escrow account with Axis Bank

serving as the Escrow Agent under this agreement.


 A2Z entered into a separate agreement with Quippo Infrastructure to complete a

portion of the contract work, and it was agreed that the money collected by A2Z

would be placed in an escrow account from which the parties would be paid.

 The Master Service contract with Quippo was canceled by A2Z in the year 2020. As a

result of the termination of the contract, Quippo Infrastructure moved an application

to the Calcutta High Court for the appointment of an arbitration panel to resolve the

issue arising from the dispute.

 The Calcutta High Court in Quippo Infrastructure Ltd vs A2Z Infraservices Ltd & Anr

relied on the WhatsApp communication dated March 19, 2020, wherein the

respondent A2Z allegedly admitted due payment of INR 8.18 crore to the Quippo

Infrastructure (now Viom Infra ventures). Further, the court also relied upon an e-mail

dated 2018 where the A2Z infrastructure has agreed to deposit the payments received

from South Delhi Municipal to an Escrow Account.

 The Calcutta High Court relying on the same ordered the Respondent A2Z

Infraservice to deposit the due payment in an escrow account transparently

overlooking the fact that the A2Z contended that that e-mail/WhatsApp was falsified

and manufactured and therefore should not be considered acceptable in court.

 Later Aggrieved by the order of the Calcutta High Court A2Z Infra decided to

challenge the order and moved an application to the Hon’ble Supreme Court. The

Hon’ble Supreme Court of India on July 14, 2021, ruled that the aforementioned

communications on the social media network WhatsApp have no evidentiary value

and that the source of such messages cannot be identified, particularly in commercial

partnerships regulated by agreements.

Conclusion

Despite the modern ubiquity of instant messaging and social media platforms, based on the

discussions on point of law and the cases that are coming before the Hon’ble Supreme Court

of India and several High Courts have reiterated on several occasions that WhatsApp chat

will have no evidentiary value whatsoever if the same is not accompanied by a Certificate

under Section 65B of Indian Evidence Act.

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