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WhatsApp messages have no evidential value: SC

WhatsApp messages have no evidential value: SC

In 2020, A2Z terminated the contract after which Quippo moved to the Calcutta High Court, where they told the HC of a WhatsApp message about the payment of Rs 8.18 crore due to Quippo. A2Z, however, said the message was forged and fabricated but was directed by HC to deposit the money in an escrow account.

We don’t attach any value to the WhatsApp messages (Source: PTI) We don’t attach any value to the WhatsApp messages (Source: PTI)

The Supreme Court on Wednesday said messages exchanged on social media platform WhatsApp have no evidential value and the author of such messages cannot be tied to them, especially in business partnerships governed by agreements.

A bench of Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justices A S Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy said, "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."

The ruling pertains to a 2016 agreement for collection and transportation of waste materials between South Delhi Municipal Corporation and a consortium comprising A2Z Infraservices and another entity. In 2017, A2Z entered into another agreement with Quippo Infrastructure for carrying out a part of the contracted work and it was agreed that the sum received by A2Z would be deposited in an escrow account from which the payment would be made to the parties.

In 2020, A2Z terminated the contract after which Quippo moved the Calcutta High Court, where they told the HC of a WhatsApp message about the payment of Rs 8.18 crore due to Quippo. A2Z, however, said the message was forged and fabricated, but was directed by HC to deposit the money in an escrow account.

The SC bench led by CJI Ramana said that once the matter has been referred to arbitration, why should a party which terminated the agreement deposit the receivables in an escrow account? Quippo, however, insisted on its stand, following which the Bench asked the counsel to file a reply to the petition filed by A2Z.

Meanwhile, amid an ongoing standoff between the Central government and WhatsApp over the new privacy policy, which allows the instant messaging app to use some of the "business conversations" hosted with Facebook for advertising, WhatsApp issued a statement saying, "We will not limit functionality of how WhatsApp works in the coming weeks. Instead, we will continue to remind users from time to time about the update… we will maintain this approach until at least the forthcoming PDP law comes into effect."

(Edited by Rupashree Ravi)

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