On Friday February, 1st 2019 bench comprising of Justices RF Nariman and Vineet Saran of Supreme Court of India have asked Reserve Bank of India to respond for an application impleaded by NGO, Centre for Accountability and Systemic Change (CASC), which has filed a petition in the court claiming that WhatsApp has not fully complied with the central bank's circular which prescribed data localisation norms. The norms are related to store the payment related data within India, which has 200 million WhatsApp users.
Bench of Supreme Court of India said "Issue notice on the application for impleadment of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) as respondent," and posted the matter for hearing on March 5th, 2019.
On January 14th, 2019 Supreme Court of India had permitted advocate Virag Gupta, appearing for the petitioner, to file an application for impleading RBI as a party in the case.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, had also told the court that RBI was needed to be made a party in the case as issue pertains to data localisation.
In this petition the NGO have seeked the direction to control the instant messaging platform from proceeding with its payment service unless it fully complied with the provisions of the RBI.
The Centre and WhatsApp had earlier notified the court that a grievance officer for India has been appointed by the instant messaging service company. However, NGO has claimed that grievance officer has been appointed in the United States of America, which is "preposterous and against the sovereignty of India."
In its plea, the NGO has referred to IT (Intermediary) Rules of 2011 and IT (reasonable security practices and procedures and sensitive personal data or information) Rules 2011 wherein provision is made for appointment of grievance officer, and as per the affidavit that it would be a mystery if data localisation norms are prescribed in India but companies are allowed to keep data officers in USA.
On August 27, 2018 Supreme Court have agreed to examine the plea which claimed that WhatsApp does not comply with the Indian laws including the provision for appointing a grievance officer.
In its plea, the Centre for Accountability and Systemic Change (CASC) said that to open a bank account, a customer needs to comply with KYC norms laid down by the RBI and various other formalities, and "WhatsApp is a foreign company with no office or servers in India. To run Payments Service in India, WhatsApp is compelled to have its office and payments in India."
This Petition also claimed that the social media giant does not fulfil the tax and other laws of India, but its reach was such that it is used by everyone, even the judges of the different courts.
If we keep all the cases of Internet based crimes, the growth of such incidents is equal to the growth of the user base of messaging services like WhatsApp.