The Delhi High Court has held that a document received as a WhatsApp forward does not even qualify as a document in terms of the Evidence Act, 1872, if neither the original nor the copy of the original has been produced.
Sanjeev Sachdeva made the above observation while dismissing a petition filed by the National Lawyers Campaign for Judicial Transparency and Reforms and others seeking a direction to the State of Arunachal Pradesh, its police, Delhi Police, West Bengal Police and the Central Bureau of Investigation to register an FIR based on the allegations contained in the alleged suicide note of its late Chief Minister Kalikho Pul.
The alleged document, claimed in the petition to be a suicide note, is a typed copy of an English translation of a document stated to be in Hindi.
The court asked the petitioners as to what is the source of the alleged information, based on which the petition has been filed. The petitioners stated that the source of information is information circulated and received on social media WhatsApp platform. Neither was the name of the sender of the alleged WhatsApp post stated nor was it stated as to which of the petitioners received the WhatsApp post.
The petitioners’ submitted that in terms of Section 154 of the Code Criminal Procedure, 1973, any information, which is provided to the police, is sufficient to set the criminal process into motion.
Rejecting the submission, the court held: “I am unable to accept this contention, in as much as, in the present case; the petitioners very candidly admit that they are not privy to any information. What they believe to be information is a post circulated on WhatsApp platform or an alleged translation in a website. The alleged information is not claimed to be true to their knowledge. It is not even stated in the petition as to how the petitioners have formed a reasonable belief that the alleged post or the translation could be true or have any basis”.
“Annexure – A does not even qualify as a document in terms of the Evidence Act, 1872, in as much as, neither original nor the copy of the original has been produced. It is an admitted position that the petitioners have not seen original and have had no occasion to even compare Annexure – A with the original.”
The court dismissed the writ petition with cost of Rs. 25,000 on each of the petitioners, since the petitioners had admittedly filed the petition without verifying or affirming any fact and without the formation of even a belief that what is stated in the petition has any iota of truth behind it.
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