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Delhi High Court: WhatsApp Conversations Cannot be Used as Evidence without Certification under Indian Evidence Act, 1872

Delhi High Court emphasizes the need for certification under the Evidence Act for WhatsApp conversations to be admissible as evidence in legal proceedings

In a recent ruling, the Delhi High Court emphasized the necessity of proper certification under the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 for WhatsApp conversations to be admissible as evidence in legal proceedings. The decision arose during an appeal by Dell India against a district consumer commission’s decision to reject its written statement due to delay.

Court’s Stance: Justice Subramonium Prasad, overseeing the case, emphasized that WhatsApp conversations cannot be considered as evidence unless accompanied by proper certification under the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. This clarification was prompted by Dell’s attempt to submit a WhatsApp conversation screenshot as supporting evidence.

Legal Background: The district consumer commission’s initial decision was upheld by the Delhi State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission in December 2023, leading Dell to appeal to the High Court. Dell argued that delay in receiving complete complaint details from the complainant’s counsel caused the delay in its submission, and included the WhatsApp screenshot to bolster its case.

Court’s Decision: However, the High Court declined to accept the WhatsApp screenshot as evidence, reinforcing the necessity for certification under the Evidence Act. This ruling underscores the procedural requirement for authenticating electronic communications, such as WhatsApp messages, before they can be used as evidence in court.

“The screen shot of Whatsapp conversations cannot be taken into account by this Court while dealing with a Writ Petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, more so, when there is nothing to show that the conversations were produced before the State Commission as this Court does not find any reference of the same in the present Writ Petition. Further, there is no discussion of the same in the Order of the State Commission.”

Advocates Pratyush Miglani and Hrithik Yadav represented Dell India in the case. The Delhi High Court noted that the district commission meticulously reviewed the matter, requesting postal receipts to verify documents sent with the summons received by Dell.

After confirming that Dell received a complete set of documents, the district commission concluded that Dell’s application to condone a seven-day delay in filing the Written Statement lacked merit. Consequently, the High Court upheld the district commission’s decision, finding no grounds to dispute its refusal to condone the delay, and dismissed Dell’s petition.

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