WhatsApp messages will have no evidentiary value unless they are certified as per Section 65B of the Indian Evidence Act held the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
The Court made this observation while deciding a bail application in a case under the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS Act).
The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) relied on certain alleged WhatsApp chats of the accused. The NCB submitted that screenshots of WhatsApp messages linked the petitioner with the contraband.
Though, the Court asked if such messages are supplemented with Section 65B certificate.
On hearing an adverse reply, the bench noted: “The recent judgment rendered by the Supreme Court in the matter of Arjun Panditrao Khotkar Vs. KailashKushanrao Gorantyal and others (2020) 7 SCC 1 has held that a certificate Section 65B of the Indian Evidence Act is required when reliance is being placed upon electronic record. Therefore, the said message would be of no evidentiary value as on date”.
However the Court said that, “Needless to say that the Narcotics Bureau would always be at liberty to rely upon the Whatsapp messages after due compliance of provisions of Section 65-B of the Indian Evidence”,
The NCB had referred on certain custodial statements made by the accused under Section 67 of NDPS Act to contend that prima facie offence is made out. Conversely, the Court not relyed on Section 67 statements in the light of the recent Apex Court ruling in Tofan Singh v Union of India which held that such statements amount to custodial confessions, rendering them inadmissible in evidence.
Case name: Rakesh Kumar Singla vs Union of India
Citation: CRM-M No.23220 of 2020 (O&M)
Coram: HON’BLE MS. JUSTICE JAISHREE THAKUR
WhatsApp Messages Will Have No Evidentiary Value Unless They are Certified as per Section 65B of the Indian Evidence Act: P&H High Court