Have you defaulted on your loan or credit card payment and are evading the bank by not receiving their calls or changing your residence? Better mend your ways as even a notice about a litigation served by your bank or the concerned party via WhatsApp is valid, the Bombay High Court has ruled recently.
According to a TOI report, Rohidas Jadhav, a Nalasopara resident, had accrued credit card dues of Rs 85,000 in the year 2010. Following arbitration proceedings, Jadhav was in 2011 ordered to pay back the amount due along with 8% interest. Jadhav, however, still couldn’t clear his dues. Thereafter an execution application was filed by the bank, SBI Cards and Payment Services, in 2015 to enforce the arbitration award. The due amount at that time stood at Rs 1.17 lakh.
As Jadhav kept shifting his residence, SBI Cards had failed to serve the litigation notice to him over the previous few years. However, Jadhav’s phone number was available with SBI Cards. So, the representative of the bank sent a message via WhatsApp informing Jadhav about the next date of hearing. The lawyer’s notice was also sent to Jadhav in a PDF. Advocate Murlidhar Kale, counsel for SBI Cards, informed the court that the blue ticks on the message showed that Jadhav had not only received the message, but also read its contents.
As per the current rules, a notice is served in person or through a registered post. However, “after the enactment of the IT Act, which recognises electronic communication as evidence, courts have allowed parties in a litigation to serve notice through email, in addition to traditional methods,” says the TOI report.
Justice Gautam Patel said that Jadhav was served a notice by an authorised officer of the bank who sent a PDF and message to his mobile number as a WhatsApp message. “For the purposes of service of notice, I will accept this. I do so because the icon indicators clearly show that not only was the message and attachment delivered but that both were opened,” Justice Patel said.