Delhi Court Criticizes Police for Serving Summons via WhatsApp to Witnesses

Posted On - 29 June, 2023 • By - King Stubb & Kasiva


The recent court hearing in New Delhi, which questioned the Delhi Police’s use of WhatsApp to send summonses to public witnesses, shed light on several worrisome issues. The judge strongly admonished the police for neglecting to personally visit the witnesses’ homes, as required by guidelines. By depending entirely on WhatsApp, the police ignored the importance of face-to-face interactions and failed to make the required measures to establish good communication with the witnesses.

Procedure to be Followed to Serve Summons under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973

The relevant sections which deal with summons and their serving are Sections 61 – 69 of CrPC. The following is the procedure:

  • Issuance: After the presiding officer has signed and affixed the court seal to a summons, it is given to a police officer for service. The summons should be obvious and specific, containing the court’s name, the defendant’s name and address, and the offense charged.
  • Personal Service: Ideally, the summons should be served personally by handing the duplicate copy of the summons to the individual summoned. The individual summoned must sign a receipt as confirmation of service.
  • Service to Family Member: If the person being summoned cannot be located, the summons may be served on an adult male family member who resides with the person being summoned.
  • Substituted Service: If personal service is not possible, the serving officer may affix the duplicate copy of the summons to a visible portion of the defendant’s residence after making all reasonable efforts. This constitutes a substitute service.
  • Service on Witnesses: In addition to other modalities of service, the court may order that a copy of the summons be served on a witness by registered mail with acknowledgment due.

To ensure that individuals are duly notified and have the opportunity to participate in legal proceedings, it is essential to follow the correct procedure for serving summonses under the CrPC.

What did the Court Say in this Case?

Additional Sessions Judge Hem Raj, the presiding judge in a recent murder case, voiced concern about an absent and unresponsive witness despite repeated calls. The judge noted that the Commissioner of Police in Delhi had issued a standing order ensuring appropriate witness service. However, it was seen that police officers continued to rely only on WhatsApp, ignoring their responsibilities to visit the residences of the witnesses as required. The matter was sent to the deputy police commissioner of the west district for action, and the relevant police officials were summoned to explain.


This incident raises general questions about the police department’s adherence to proper protocols. It indicates a lack of care and adherence to established protocols on the part of several police officers, which can have serious ramifications for the administration of justice. While dependence on digital channels such as WhatsApp might be beneficial in some ways, it should not overwhelm the need for personal connections and meticulous follow-through in legal procedures. This instance serves as a reminder of the need for police officers to adhere to established processes and demonstrate a higher sense of responsibility and deference to commands issued by their superiors.