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Admissibility of WhatsApp chats in the eyes of law in India

27 Jan, 2021
Admissibility of WhatsApp chats in the eyes of law in India

Everyone is a fan of social media. If you have a smartphone, then you are certainly using these modern-day applications to interact with your loved ones. Indeed, people prefer to send text messages than simply talking over the phone.

Interestingly, we spend hours on social apps, especially on WhatsApp. Sending texts, pictures, videos and documents are the basic features that we get on these useful apps. But, do we know that it also helps to fight against the uneven fraud that we have faced…

Now, the question is, is WhatsApp conversation eligible to be produced in the court?

Recently, a 500 pages long WhatsApp chat has come forward between Arnab Goswami (Anchor, Republic TV) and Partho Das Gupta (Former CEO, BARC). The data has revealed information about the past attacks on the border and other controversial information.

Earlier, the journalist has been accused of a fake TRP case, and the charges have been filed accordingly with Mumbai police.

After the disclosed WhatsApp chat, many people are uncertain if the chat can be presented in the court— is it considered as evidence in the eye of law!

As per law, any electronic record is included in the evidence list under section 3 of Indian Evidence Act. It will be taken as "documentary evidence."

According to Section 2(1) (t) of the Information Technology Act, an electronic record is "data, record or data generated, image or sound stored, received or sent in an electronic form or microfilm or computer generated microfiche".

Besides, there is a condition to these records. These pieces of evidence will be considered secondary. To be more clear, the chat and proofs presented in front of the jurisdiction will be printouts or screenshots between the two parties. For strong beliefs, the device has to be produced itself than the papers.

Under section 92, Evidence Act— the oral evidence about the documents is restricted.

Moreover, Evidence Act Section 64 says that "documents must be proved by primary evidence" except Section 65. Positively, we can provide digital chat shreds of evidence as print outs or store them in CDs and DVDs, to present in the court.

So, how to present the evidence?

Certain conditions make our digital documents eligible for a hearing, which are:

  • The system must be working which produced the printouts.
  • Data gathered from the system must be generic (general output supplied by the devices).
  • The system should work properly in good condition while generating the evidence documents.
  • Must generate a duplicate copy (similar quality).

Besides, a signed document is required to certify that you meet all the above-mentioned conditions.

This output from the system will be considered as "evidence of content."

In the recent past, there are several cases when the jurisdiction has considered WhatsApp chat as digital pieces of evidence.

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