The Bombay High Court recently set a precedent after it served a summon via WhatsApp. Justice Gautam Patel of Bombay High Court opted for the innovative method after one of the defendants in a copyright infringement case was being particularly evasive.
In an article published in Bar & Bench, it was mentioned that the defendants involved in the case are the producers of the Kannada movie 'Pushpaka Vimana', that was released earlier this year. A case of copyright infringement suit was filed against the producers.
After repeated failed attempts to serve the summons on them, the judicial team found out the contact number of the producers and verified it via the app Truecaller and then sent the summons through WhatsApp.
The defendants reportedly replied to the summon, "I dint understand anything. Will check with my legal team and I’ll text you back. I am out of station." The summons were then also sent through emails.
A lawyer practising with the Bombay High Court, confirmed that the summons were in fact sent through WhatsApp and added that this might be the first such instance in the judicial history of the country. Other than the summons being served in person, they are also served through post and email.
Justice Patel noted in his order dated March 23,
“I do not see what more can be done for the purposes of this Motion. It cannot be that our rules and procedure are either so ancient or so rigid (or both) that without some antiquated formal service mode through a bailiff or even by beat of drum or pattaki, a party cannot be said to have been ‘properly’ served.
The purpose of service is put the other party to notice and to give him a copy of the papers. The mode is surely irrelevant. We have not formally approved of email and other modes as acceptable simply because there are inherent limitation to proving service. Where an alternative mode is used, however, and service is shown to be effected, and is acknowledged, then surely it cannot be suggested that the Defendants had ‘no notice’…
…Defendants who avoid and evade service by regular modes cannot be permitted to take advantage of that evasion.”
“If Vikhyat and Krishna (the producers) believe they can resort to these tactics to avoid service, they are wrong. They may succeed in avoiding a bailiff. They may be able to avoid a courier or a postman. They have reckoned without the invasiveness of information technology. Vikhyat in particular does not seem to have cottoned on to the fact that when somebody calls him and he responds, details can be obtained from in-phone apps and services, and these are very hard to either obscure or disguise.”