In the past few years, India has witnessed a rapid transformation in the way legal notices are served. With the advent of technology, courts have started acknowledging the validity of notices served through electronic modes such as email, WhatsApp, Telegram, and other tele messenger services.
The evolution of this concept can be traced back to the case of Kross Television India Pvt. Ltd. v. Vikhyat Chitra Production, where the Bombay High Court established a precedent by endorsing the use of WhatsApp for notice delivery. Subsequently, in SBI Cards & Payments Services Pvt. Ltd. v. Rohidas Jadhav, the Bombay High Court accepted WhatsApp as a means of serving notice under Order XXI Rule 22.
Following this, other High Courts in India also started acknowledging the validity of notices served through electronic modes. The Delhi High Court, in Tata Sons Ltd & Ors v. John Doe, permitted the plaintiff to serve one of the defendants with the summons through email, text message, and WhatsApp. In another case of trademark infringement and passing off, Meena Prints Pvt. Ltd. v. Vahini Enterprises and Anr, the court summoned the defendants using WhatsApp after traditional modes of service repeatedly failed.
The Bombay High Court, in Dr. Madhav Vishwanath Dawalbhakta & ors. v. M/s. Bendale Brothers, emphasized that the soul of the service is to have the information of the proceedings to the defendant or the contesting party, regardless of the mode of service used. The Punjab-Haryana High Court also allowed copies of FDRs to be sent through WhatsApp messaging in the case of Monika Rani & Anr. v. State of Haryana & Ors.
Despite this evolution, there have been some recent contradictions. In the case of Hardev Ram Dhaka V Union Of India, Registrar has stated that notice served upon the respondents through e-mail or WhatsApp is not valid as per Supreme Court Rules. This raises questions on the uniformity and consistency of the application of electronic modes for serving legal notices.
In conclusion, the validity of notice served through electronic modes has been an evolving landscape in India. The judiciary’s recognition of electronic modes for serving legal notices has greatly improved the accessibility and convenience of the legal system. However, there is still a need for clarity and uniformity in the application of electronic modes for serving legal notices to ensure that the legal system remains just and fair.