In a first, a court of financial commissioner in Haryana headed by IAS officer Ashok Khemka has ordered serving of summons in a property dispute case through WhatsApp to one of the respondents who shifted to Kathmandu.
Summons in such cases are usually sent by registered post to the physical address of the respondents, but Khemka observed in his order that law follows technological advancements and is not fossilised.
The summons were ordered to be served through Whatsapp messenger service on April 6 to the respondent in a case involving a property partition dispute among three brothers in a village in Hisar district of Haryana. The court of financial commissioner is a quasi-judicial body.
A mobile phone number belonging to the respondent was provided by the petitioner. The respondent was informed over phone about the summons from the court by the process server and was asked to appear before the court on the appointed day. However, the respondent refused to appear or to provide his address in Kathmandu, when asked.
In this case, Satbir Singh had a dispute with his brothers Ramdiyal and Krishan Kumar over partition of a family property at a village in Hisar district. When the court of the financial commissioner issued notice to both the brothers seeking their replies in the matter, Ramdiyal received the summons but these could not be served to Krishan as he had shifted to Kathmandu.
However, when Kumar was contacted over phone, he refused to appear or provide his address in Kathmandu, the order mentions.
In his order, Khemka observed that the modern age is highly mobile due to technological advancements. “The physical address is no longer permanent as before and keeps changing. But electronic mail address and mobile phone number of a person is relatively more permanent than his physical address. The law is not fossilised. Law is a living concept and follows technological advancements. An email address or a mobile phone number is also the address of a person in the present times.”
The court mentioned that Order 5 Rule 9 (2) of the Civil Procedure Code (CPC) specifies that summons may be sent in such manner as the court may direct and in Rule 9(3) any other means of transmission is provided.
After it was established that the mobile number of Krishan Kumar was active and he was using WhatsApp, Khemka’s court directed that a clear image of the summons notice bearing the seal of the court be sent on his number. Additional solicitor general of India Satya Pal Jain said such means could be used to serve a party in exceptional circumstances. “It’s permissible, if there is no other means to serve a party. The order 5, Rule 9 of Code of Civil Procedure permits serving a party through such means provided it is established that number is of person, who is to be served the notice,” he said.
unjab and Haryana high court advocate HC Arora said the purpose is to serve a party. The court can invoke its inherent powers to serve notice through such means.