The Supreme Court on Friday allowed service of summons & notices through instant tele-messenger services like Whatsapp as well as via email & fax.
"It has been brought to our notice that it was not possible to visit post offices for services of notices, summons, pleadings. Such service of all the above may be done through email, fax and other instant messenger services like Whatsapp and other telephone messenger services" - CJI SA Bobde
A bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde, AS Bopanna & Subhash Reddy clarified that all methods are to be employed to prove a valid service on a party .
CJI refused the request of the Attorney General for specifically naming Whatsapp as a mode of effectuating service stating that it was not prudent to specify Whatsapp only.
On July 7, the Attorney General had submitted that the Central Government had reservations about allowing whatsapp and other apps for purposes of summons and service as even though these apps claimed to be encrypted, they were not trustworthy.
A bench led by Chief Justice SA Bobde took on record, a consolidated reply filed on behalf of the Union of India detailing its stand on several IA's with regard to limitations pertaining to Section 29A & 23(4)of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, Section 12A of the Commercial Courts Act, 2015, Service of all notices, summons and exchanges of pleadings, Clarifications with regard to the earlier March 23 order & Extension of Limitation under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881.
The Attorney General appeared on behalf of the Union of India and stated that since the period of one year within which the Arbitral Award is to be delivered is not a period of limitation as such, it may be clarified that the times period under Section 29A is being extended until further orders on account of COVID19.
On the issue of service of statutory notices, summons and pleadings through fax and emails, the AG submitted that the same be allowed until further orders.
The IA by HDFC which made a specific averment stating that if the limitation stands extended in regard to cases where limitation has already expired during lockdown or is about to expire, the bank has to undertake an enormous exercise of obtaining Letters of Acknowledgement of Debt (LAD) from thousands of borrowers, the Union stated that the entire period of lockdown should be excluded in all such cases.
Additionally, the union also added that the order passed in the matter or Harsh Nitin Gokhale V. RBI stipulated that the RBI was the appropriate body to deal with the issue with regard to extension of limitation under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881.
Bench noted that the union had asked RBI to decide on the period of extension under s. 138 of Negotiable Instruments Act.
The IA was filed by Advocates Mayank Khirsagar & Sahil Mongia.