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The evolution of communication necessitates a more practical approach to the mode and manner of summons service, yet, the statutory rules do not permit summons service via WhatsApp: Kerala High Court

The evolution of communication necessitates a more practical approach to the mode and manner of summons service, yet, the statutory rules do not permit summons service via WhatsApp is upheld by the Kerala High Court in the case of Anoop Jacob v. State of Kerala through Justice V.G. Arun.

FACTS OF THE CASE

In the instant case, a non-bailable warrant  was issued against the petitioner for failing to appear before the court vexed him or her.

The petitioner’s precise argument was that because he hadn’t downloaded the WhatsApp programme for his phone, the summons that was allegedly delivered to him via WhatsApp had never arrived.

JUDGMENT

The following is specified in Section 62 of the Criminal Procedure Code about the manner of serving summonses:

(1) Subject to whatever rules the State government may adopt in this regard, any summons must be served by a police officer, a court official issuing the summons, or another public servant.

(2) If possible, the summons shall be personally served on the person named in the summons by handing him one of the duplicates of the summons.

(3) Every individual who receives a summons in this manner must sign a receipt on the back of the other duplicate if the serving officer so requests.

According to Section 65 of the CrPC, the serving officer must attach one of the duplicate summonses to a conspicuous area of the domicile where the person being served usually resides if service could not be carried out as specified in Section 2.

The Court ruled that the aforementioned regulations do not allow for summons serving via WhatsApp. Undoubtedly, the revolutionary developments in communication necessitate a more practical approach to the style and manner of summons serving. In order to address this issue, Section 144 of the Negotiable Instruments Act was added. This section outlines the options for serving summonses, including fast post or an authorised courier service.

The Supreme Court warned the Magistrates in Indian Banks Assn. v. Union of India, (2014) on the necessity to adopt a practical and realistic approach when issuing process and instructed to issue summons via post as well as by email.

In the present case, it was claimed that the summons had been sent over WhatsApp, which is not a recognised method of communication. As a result, the court was incorrect to assume that the petitioner had not shown up after being served with a summons and issue a non-bailable warrant against him.

Regarding the legality of summonses delivered via WhatsApp, the Court raised an intriguing question. Without a doubt, the evolution of communication necessitates a more practical approach to the mode and manner of summons service, yet, the statutory rules do not permit summons service via WhatsApp.

Thus, the petitioner was allowed to submit a request for bail, and the magistrate was instructed to take this into consideration when determining whether the petitioner had appeared on summons. The petitioner was handed a non-bailable warrant, which was ordered to be held in limbo for a period of four weeks.

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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY NISHTHA GARHWAL

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