Supreme Court on Wednesday said the messages exchanged on social media platform WhatsApp cannot be used as evidence. It also ruled that the author of such WhatsApp messages cannot be tied to them, especially in business partnerships administered by agreements.
A Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justices A S Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy questioned the evidential value of WhatsApp messages. "Anything can be created and deleted on social media these days. We don't attach any value to the WhatsApp messages," the bench said, as reported by Times of India.
Why did Supreme Court Say That?
The ruling concerns a December 2, 2016 Concession Agreement for collecting and transporting waste materials between South Delhi Municipal Corporation and a consortium comprising A2Z Infraservices and another entity. On April 28, 2017, A2Z agreed with Quippo Infrastructure (now Viom Infra ventures) to carry out a portion of the work. They also agreed to deposit the payment received from SDMC in an escrow account. The two parties decided that they would be paid from that account.
However, on May 28, 2020, A2Z terminated the contract. Soon after, on September 14, Quippo moved to the Calcutta High Court, where they informed a single-judge bench of a WhatsApp message about the due payment of ₹ 8.81 crores to Quippo. Quippo also showed an email from 2018 in which A2Z had agreed to deposit all money received from South Delhi Municipal Corporation in the escrow account. However, A2Z said the WhatsApp message was forged and fabricated. High Court, nonetheless, directed A2Z to deposit the money received by them in future from SDMC in the escrow account.
A2Z Raised Doubts On HC's Decision Before SC
Senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, appearing on behalf of A2Z before the Supreme Court on Wednesday. He said it was incomprehensible why the High Court ordered all money received from SDMC to be deposited in an escrow account after the agreement between the parties was terminated and the dispute stood referred to arbitration. He raised the question of how the High Court can believe a WhatsApp message when A2Z had disputed it as forged and fabricated.
The three-judge Supreme Court bench led by Justice N V Ramana said that why should a party, which terminated the agreement, deposit the money received in an escrow account after the matter has been referred to arbitration.out The bench further said that it did not consider the alleged admission in the WhatsApp message. Quippo still insisted on its stand, so the court asked them to file a reply to the petition filed by A2Z.
Standoff Between WhatsApp And Central Government