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WhatsApp Inc today assured the Supreme Court that only a trial run of its payments service is underway at present, and that it would comply with Reserve Bank of India (RBI) norms before launching the full version.
This assurance came when the Bench of Justice Rohinton Nariman and Vineet Saran was hearing a petition seeking directions for the messaging platform to comply with RBI norms for its payments service.
Senior Counsel Kapil Sibal and Arvind Datar, representing WhatsApp Inc, told the Court that the service was only in its trial run which is likely to be completed by July this year. Sibal told the Court,
“We cannot launch the product without compliance.”
Taking the assurance of WhatsApp on record, the Court has listed the matter to be heard next in July.
Last year, a petition was filed in the Supreme Court seeking a direction to WhatsApp to appoint a Grievance Officer and to comply with the tax laws and other laws in India. It is claimed that WhatsApp is being allowed to continue with its payments services and other services “without any checks”.
The RBI circular mandates that to run a payment service in India, a company must have its offices and payments in India. This rule appears to be violated by instant messaging service company, considering that it is a foreign company having no offices or servers in India, the petition claims.
According to the petition, WhatsApp has over 20 crore active users in India, and yet, the messaging service has no grievance redressal number for users in India. It is further stated that despite being the largest messaging platform in India, WhatsApp remains largely unregulated, given that the laws in place are not complied with.
The Court has issued notice in the matter in August last year.
Read the Order: