The Supreme Court recently issued a notice to the Centre and messaging service provider WhatsApp, after a plea sought direction to stop the app from proceeding with its payments systems unless it is fully in accordance with RBI’s provisions.
The judiciary bench consists of Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman and Justice Indu Malhotra, who sought response from WhatsApp, Law and Justice Ministry, Finance Ministry and Information Technology Ministry within four weeks.
Advocate Virag Gupta, appearing for the petitioner Center for Accountability and Systemic Change, stated that the messaging platform does not comply with provision of mandating a Grievance Officer and other laws of India including Know Your Customer (KYC) norms laid down by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
The plea added that, while companies like Facebook and Google have appointed Grievance Officers for users in India, WhatsApp had not yet done that.
In order to make WhatsApp accountable, it must be directed to comply with Indian laws and appoint a Grievance Officer who shall address to the grievances of the consumers as well as co-ordinate with investigating agencies.
To know more, WhatsApp is a foreign company with no office or servers in India and to run payments service here, it is obligated to have its office and payments in India.
The advocate added that, WhatsApp was being allowed to continue with its payments and other services without any checks.
According to the petition, WhatsApp has over 200 million users in India and almost one million people are “testing” WhatsApp’s payments service in India, and this is perhaps the largest base for the Facebook-owned company that has over 1.5 billion users globally. Also, it added that, every user has a number on WhatsApp but the messaging platform does not really have a number through which the users can contact the company for grievance redress.