SC seeks response from govt, WhatsApp on appointment of grievance officer

By: | Published: August 28, 2018 5:18 AM

The Supreme Court on Monday sought responses from the Centre, Trai and WhatsApp as to why the instant messaging platform should be allowed to proceed with its payment service till it complies with the provisions of the Reserve Bank of India that mandate appointing a grievance officer.

Companies like Facebook and Google have appointed grievance officer for users in India, but WhatsApp has not.

The Supreme Court on Monday sought responses from the Centre, Trai and WhatsApp as to why the instant messaging platform should be allowed to proceed with its payment service till it complies with the provisions of the Reserve Bank of India that mandate appointing a grievance officer.

A Bench led by justice RF Nariman issued notice to the ministries of finance, home affairs, law and justice and electronic and information technology, Trai and Whatsapp on a petition filed by an NGO, Centre for Accountability and Systemic Change (CASC), which also alleged that the instant messaging service was not complying with tax and other laws of India.

Seeking to restrain the platform from proceeding with its payment service unless it fully complies with the RBI provisions, CASC said to open a bank account, a customer needs to comply with KYC norms laid down by the RBI and various other formalities. However, WhatsApp being a foreign company has no office or servers in India, and it is obligated to have a one before it intends to run payments service here, the petition said.

“Moreover, it is also required to have a grievance officer for users in India. Yet, it is being allowed to continue with its payments and other services without any check,” the plea claimed.

Companies like Facebook and Google have appointed grievance officer for users in India, but WhatsApp has not. However, the grievance officer of Facebook sits in Ireland and the one for Google sits in the US. They are thus rendered ineffective.

Pointing to rumours about various internet-based crimes, it claimed the growth of such incidents was directly proportional to the growth of the user base of messaging services like WhatsApp and to make WhatsApp accountable, it must be directed to comply with Indian laws and appoint a grievance officer.

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