Recently, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has ruled that investigative agencies can rely on WhatsApp messages during investigations. Still, a certificate u/s 65B of Indian Evidence Act is necessary for the same.
The Bench noted that WhatsApp messages would have no evidentiary value unless there is a Section 65B certificate.
Section 65B requires that an official be certified electronic records then only it can be admitted to Court as evidence.
The Court heard an application for bail in a case registered under Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.1987.
Arguments before the Court
Counsel for the petitioner argued that his client is falsely implicated in the case based on a disclosure statement by the co-accused and the petitioners own statement, which cannot be relied on by the Court.
The opposing counsel submitted that authorities had recovered fifty-seven thousand tramadol hydrochloride tablets, which amounted to commercial quantity.
In the case, co-accused stated that he had sent the consignment to another person at the petitioner’s behest and was unaware of the parcel’s contents. He asserted that WhatsApp conversations connected the petitioner to the contraband.
Counsel for NCB argued that WhatsApp messages indicate that there were financial transactions between the accused and the co-accused and they both of them were involved in the purchase and sale of the contraband.
In this regard, the Court asked the counsel of the NCB if the messages were certified as per Section 65B, and the response was negative.
Reasoning and decision of the Court
Hon’ble Court relied on Apex Court’s judgement in Arjun Panditrao Khotkar vs Kailas Kishanrao Gorantyal and held that in terms of the judgement, a certification under Section 65B was necessary.
The Court further ruled that the accused’s inculpatory statement cannot be relied on as in Tofan Singh vs State of Tamil Nadu the Supreme Court held that confessional statements given to Narcotics officers could not be relied on in the trial.
Based on the facts and evidence on record, the Court granted bail to the accused.
Title: Rakesh Kumar Singla vs Union of India
Case No.:CRM-M No.23220 of 2020 (O&M)
Date of Order:14.01.2021
Coram: Hon’ble Justice Jaishree Thakur