Delhi HC objects to WhatsApp asking judge not to hear PIL
Justice Pratibha M Singh said the e-mail, which was later withdrawn, was completely unwarranted because she was anyway going to recuse herself from hearing the case filed by lawyer Chaitanya Rohilla, who has contended that WhatsApp’s updated policy virtually scrutinises the personal profile of a user 360 degrees, thereby violating the individual’s Right to Privacy.
When the matter was listed on Friday, justice Singh mentioned the e-mail in open court. “The court has received an e-mail. I take strong objection to that. There was no need to send this e-mail. I was, myself not going to hear this matter,” she said.
On Friday, the senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Mukul Rohtagi, appearing for WhatsApp, acceded that they should not have sent the e-mail. Advocate Tejas Karia, the counsel who had sent the e-mail on behalf of WhatsApp, apologised to the court, and said that he would withdraw it.
The court posted the matter for Monday, when it will be heard by some other bench subject to the orders of the chief justice of the Delhi high court.
The plea, filed by Rohilla, said that WhatApp’s new norms, which users must mandatorily accept by February 8, jeopardise the national security of the country by sharing, transmitting and storing user data in some another country.
It alleged that WhatsApp was integrating people into Facebook so that Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram (another subsidiary of Facebook) all become part of one package.
He added that WhatsApp, through the policy, is clearly trying to share its user data to the parent company and other companies which will eventually use that data to serve their vested interests.
Experts said that the new policy may damage WhatsApp’s prospects in India. “Legally, there was no choice for customers who were required to either agree to the revised terms, or were to be denied the upgrade. Though WhatsApp has managed to retain its monopoly, next action of this nature, and Indian users are likely to migrate to Signal and Telegram,” said Major Nirvikar Singh (Retd), a Supreme Court lawyer.
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