Whatsapp messages have no evidentiary value unless certified under Section 65B of the Indian Evidence Act: Punjab and Haryana High Court

    The Punjab and Haryana High Court, in Rakesh Kumar Singla v Union of India, ruled that WhatsApp messages can be relied upon by investigating agencies during a crime investigation but a certificate under Section 65B of the Indian Evidence Act is required for the same.

    To be admitted as evidence in court proceedings, electronic records are required to be certified by a person occupying a responsible official position for the same under Section 65B.

    The hearing was regarding a plea for the grant of regular bail.

    Counsel for the respondent (Narcotics Control Bureau), Advocate Sanjay Vashisth submitted that around 57,000 tablets of tramadol hydrochloride (100 mg) were recovered from petitioner, hence, amounting to commercial quantity. Consequently, he contended that the screenshots of WhatsApp messages, at the disposal of the Narcotics Control Bureau connected the petitioner with the contraband.

    The said messages indicated a transfer of some amount by the petitioner to the account of the co-accused’s husband.

    When asked if the messages had been certified as under Section 65-B, the response was negative.

    The Court relied on the Supreme Court judgement in Arjun Panditrao Khotkar v. Kailash Kushanrao Gorantyal and others, stressing that the certification was mandatory

    Due to the absence of the said certificate, the messages in question in the instant case did not have evidentiary value, the Court added.

    Thereafter, the Court allowed the bail plea.