Is Whatsapp Conversation Admissible in Court
Lawsuits by or against companies are common in the business landscape. It`s an arduous and expensive process that could potentially destroy the company`s reputation, especially if there is no reliable evidence to counter the allegations. According to courtstatistics.org, median costs for a commercial lawsuit start at $54,000 for a liability lawsuit and can reach about $91,000 for median contract litigation. If these four conditions are met, WhatsApp chats could be admitted as evidence in court. On the basis of these four conditions, it was decided that electronic evidence in the Delhi State v. Mohd Affal case, commonly referred to as the Parliament Attack case, was admissible. Nowadays, where everything is connected by technology, the primacy of private chat apps has become paramount. We all depend on WhatsApp for our daily work. Crimes are also committed via WhatsApp and other social media platforms. Cybercrime is increasing day by day. Women are even constantly trolled, impaled, abused and harassed online. This makes the admissibility of WhatsApp chats or other electronic records very necessary for the court to administer justice.
On April 20, social housing provider Tai Tarian suspended employee Darren Case after discovering he had used a WhatsApp group to harass and harass a co-worker. WhatsApp messages contain humiliating comments about the colleague, including comments about her weight and hygiene. Darren then sued the company in employment court, claiming its suspension was unfair. However, the WhatsApp evidence that the court presented to the employer in court refuted his allegations and confirmed the dismissal. Currently, this electronic evidence is considered “secondary evidence” under the law, unless the device itself is presented to the court. On 28 May 2020, A2Z terminated the agreement On 14 September 2020, Quippo went to the Supreme Court of Calcutta to arbitrate issues related to the contract between A2Z and Quippo. Only one bench of judges of the Supreme Court of Calcutta was informed by Quippo`s lawyer via a WhatsApp message dated March 19, 2020, in which A2Z allegedly admitted a payment of INR 8.8 cr (Indian rupees eight crore and eighty lakhs) due to Quippo. Quippo also submitted to the court a 2018 email in which A2Z agreed to deposit all costs received from SDMC into an escrow account. When legal actions are brought against companies, reliable evidence is needed to prove or refute the allegations.
Otherwise, companies risk losing the lawsuit, resulting in reputational and financial damage. At a time when the use of WhatsApp for personal and business communication is widespread, the ability to present archived WhatsApp messages as evidence in court could mean the difference between winning and losing a case. To ensure that relevant WhatsApp messages are admissible in court, it is essential to archive WhatsApp messages, including all files, employee emails, and other message metadata. This way, you can present the best evidence and also provide all relevant WhatsApp messages that can further solidify your case in court. For example, under Massachusetts` rules of evidence, email messages can be used as evidence in court, but the law also requires prosecutors to authenticate the message of the written text before admitting it into evidence. However, in the context of the Aryan Khan case, it should also be noted that it is the “certification” of the alleged WhatsApp chats, the seizure of the phone itself, and the verification of the validity of the “printouts” and “texts” of the cats presented to the court as evidence. Therefore, through this discussion, we can say that the law of evidence categorically allows and admits the probative value of WhatsApp chat. However, the requirements mentioned in section 65B must be met, otherwise the probative value of WhatsApp chats is zero. When it comes to technological evidence, the courts are still hesitant because technology is unpredictable, but the agenda is to modernize our courts. On July 14, 2021, a chamber of the Supreme Court consisting of Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justices A S Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy stated that WhatsApp messages cannot be used as evidence in court, further stating that the author of these WhatsApp messages cannot be linked to them. The following conditions must be met to qualify these electronic records as evidence in court proceedings: There is a problem regarding electronic records in relation to WhatsApp chats, namely that the type of evidence in the case of online conversations such as Whatsapp chats is mainly secondary in nature. In other words, the evidence presented to the court regarding online chats is printouts of backup documents stored on the server or screenshots of chats, unless the device itself is fabricated. Under the Indian Evidence Act 1872, which sets out the rules for admissible evidence in Indian courts, an “electronic record” is “any combination of text, graphics, data, audio, images or other information presented in digital form created, altered, preserved, archived, retrieved or distributed by a `computer system`”.
While India`s e-Evidence Act is still in its infancy, the Supreme Court`s current position appears to be that WhatsApp messages should not be admitted as evidence in court, as they can be created and deleted by anyone at any time and have no probative value. However, following the passage of the Information Technology Act, 2000 and in the future, we hope that significant progress will be made in the regulatory landscape surrounding electronic evidence. With today`s technology, one can easily change the sender/recipient name, timestamp and message content, so the other party can easily claim that you have modified and printed WhatsApp messages. This means that screenshots or impressions of WhatsApp messages are not sufficient as legal evidence, as the other party can easily dispute their authenticity. These conditions must be met when WhatsApp or electronic evidence is presented to the court as secondary evidence. Another requirement set out in section 65B of the Evidence Act is that the parties must provide a certificate detailing the details of the electronic records so that the courts can admit the electronic records into evidence. In many countries, chats archived on WhatsApp may not be used directly as evidence in court cases. For these documents to be considered evidence, they must meet certain conditions. For example, the quality of the text must be preserved.
Otherwise, the evidence is inadmissible and will be rejected by a court. And some countries have passed laws to control the admissibility of digital and electronic recordings as evidence in court proceedings. Sections 65A and 65B of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 (“Evidence Act”) set out the following four conditions that must be met for secondary evidence to be admissible; However, the Supreme Court, as well as the HC of Punjab and Haryana, have stated in their orders that the “certificate of authenticity” can be presented at any stage of the process. Criminal jurisprudence is such that evidence should be proven beyond any doubt, but the flexibility of technology always creates a problem for believing and proving the authenticity of technological evidence in court. In any event, the courts remain very cautious about admitting electronic evidence. In 2018, the Supreme Court overturned this decision in Shafhi Mohammed v. State of Himachal Pradesh, where the court relaxed the mandatory clause added in the previous judgment and held that any electronic record presented as evidence without satisfying the requirement of section 65B(4) of the Evidence Act (in relation to the certificate) may be invoked, and also concluded that sections 65A and 65B of the Evidence Act are complementary in nature, that is added to support code on this topic. However, the chamber, presided over by Judge RF Nariman, also clarified that the “certificate” is not required if the device itself is presented to the court with the owner/authorized user of the device on which the original information is stored. A three-man panel of Judges R.M. Lodha, Curia Joseph and R.
F. Nariman set aside State (NCT Delhi) v. Navjot Sandhu to the extent that the admissibility of secondary evidence has been determined by a court in accordance with the principle generalia specialibus non derogant (general provisions must always give way to special provisions), prescribed the conditions set out in section 65B of the Evidence Act and ruled that a certificate is mandatory for the admission of electronic evidence.