WhatsApp and Centre today received a notice from Supreme Court regarding payments service on the instant messaging platform. In the notice, the Supreme Court ordered to hold WhatsApp from proceeding with its payments service in the country, unless it fully complies with RBI’s provisions. The first and most important direction given to WhatsApp is to set up a local office in India, post which the Supreme Court will give a green signal to roll out the payments service to its 200 million users in India. A bench of Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman and Justice Indu Malhotra sought a response from WhatsApp, Law and Justice Ministry, Finance Ministry and Information Technology Ministry within four weeks.
Advocate Virag Gupta, appearing for the petitioner Centre for Accountability and Systemic Change, contended that the messaging platform does not comply with a 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), according to IANS.
The plea said that while companies like Facebook and Google have appointed Grievance Officers for users in India, WhatsApp had not. In order to make WhatsApp accountable, it must be directed to comply with Indian laws and appoint a Grievance Officer who shall address grievances of the consumers as well as coordinate with investigating agencies, it added. 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, said the plea.
The advocate said WhatsApp was being allowed to continue with its payments and other services without any checks. WhatsApp has over 200 million users in India and almost one million people are “testing” WhatsApp’s payments service in India, which is the largest base for the Facebook-owned company that has over 1.5 billion users globally, according to the petition.
Every user has a number on WhatsApp but the messaging platform does not have a number through which the users can contact the company for grievance redressal, it added.