A Delhi court has allowed a woman complainant  to serve the summons in a Domestic Violence Case to her estranged husband who is in Australia through WhatsApp, text message and e-mail considering the time consumed in ordinary service and the fact that two attempts to serve summons on him in the past had failed.
Metropolitan Magistrate (Mahila Court) Surbhi Sharma Vats allowed the complainant woman’s counsel Debopriyo Pal and Kunal Kumar to serve summons on the estranged husband through WhatsApp, Text messages and e-mail.
Pal suggested to the magistrate that the summons be served via WhatsApp etc. since service could not be effected for the past eight months and the summons was being returned as the man was not staying at the last known address in Delhi.
While allowing his request, the court directed the complainant woman to file an affidavit stating that the phone numbers on which the summons would be sent via WhatsApp and text message and also the e-mail id belong to her husband and that the service of summons have been effected upon him only.
Pal relied on Delhi High Court May 2017 order in Tata Sons Limited & Ors Vs John Does wherein Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw had allowed the plaintiff to serve the summons on one of the defendants through Whatsapp, text message and e-mail.
Advocate Kumar also shared that it takes over two weeks for summons to be served on anyone outside India and the Ministry had raised objections when the summons was sent for the man in Australia as he has changed his address there and therefore, they were left with no option but to request the court to allow service through WhatsApp, SMS and e-mail.
In this case, the man had left for Australia in the year 2015 for pursuing further studies leaving behind the complainant, a homemaker, and their minor daughter, who was two years old then. The complainant continued to stay in their rented accommodation in Noida but soon joined her parents in Delhi after the husband stopped paying rent for the house.
After a few months, he severed all contacts with the complainant and never reciprocated to her attempts to contact him.
The complainant learnt through sources that he had visited India late last year but did not make any attempts to meet her or their daughter.
The woman then filed a case of domestic violence and also sought maintenance for their daughter and herself.
When the summons was sent from the court to the husband’s permanent address in Laxmi Nagar in east Delhi, the same was returned with the remark that no one related to the man stays at the address. It was then learnt that the property has been sold off.
With all attempts at serving summons having failed, Pal and Kumar requested the magistrate the prepone their case which was listed for May 16.
When the court took up the matter this month, it was informed that the complainant wishes to serve summons on her estranged husband through WhatsApp, text message and e-mail.
“…considering the fact that respondent is residing in Australia and ordinary service shall take time, petitioner is allowed to serve the summons upon respondent no. 1 through WhatsApp, text messages and email. Petitioner is directed to file an affidavit with regard to the submissions/ fact that email id, mobile number etc belongs to the respondent no. 1 and that the service has been effected upon him only,” ordered the magistrate.
The matter is now listed on April 11.
Pursuant to the order, advocate Pal said such initiatives will help litigants make use of technology to expedite proceedings which, in many cases, are pending at the stage of service of summons.
He also emphasized on the need for ordinary methods of service of summons before opting for digital media.