Court’s summons on WhatsApp not valid: HC

Special court issued arrest warrant against MLA for non- appearance

The Kerala High Court on Friday held that summons cannot be sent through WhatsApp as the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.PC) does not provide for it.

Justice V.G. Arun made the observation while keeping in abeyance a non-bailable arrest warrant issued by the special court for cases relating to MPs and MLAs against Anoop Jacob, MLA, for not appearing before the court in response to its summons. According to his petition, the summons for his appearance allegedly sent through WhatsApp had never reached him.

The court observed that Section 62 of the Cr.PC dealt with the mode of service of summons. As per Section 65 if service could not be effected as provided under Section 62, the serving officer shall affix a duplicate of the summons on the conspicuous part of the house or homestead where the person ordinarily resides. Thereafter, the court should make such inquiry as it thinks fit and either declare that the summons had been duly served or order fresh services in a manner it considers proper.

As per rule 7 of the Criminal Rules of Practice, Kerala, summons issued to the accused and witnesses shall ordinarily be signed by the chief ministerial officer of the court and the words ‘by order of the court’ shall be prefixed to the signature.

The court noted that these provisions did not allow serving of summons through WhatsApp, which was not an accepted mode of service. As such, the special court should not have issued a non-bailable warrant against the petitioner on the assumption that he had failed to appear after receiving the summons.

Bail application

The court permitted the petitioner to appear before the special court and file a bail application. The court ordered that the bail application be considered on the day it is filed and necessary orders be passed.

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