HDFC Bank sends 250 summons via Whatsapp and emails to close cheque bouncing cases

Last Updated: Sat, Sep 15, 2018 14:40 hrs
FILE PHOTO -  The headquarters of India's HDFC bank is pictured in Mumbai

Whatsapp, the Facebook owned social media communication app can be used for a number of reasons.

From being the de-facto app social-chat app for millennial used to communicate to an app that allows couples to cross-check honesty, and even to spreading fake-news, the app has certainly had a number of use-cases.

According to a latest news report, HDFC bank is the latest to report of using Whatsapp. The Mumbai headquartered HDFC Bank used Whatsapp and emails to send nearly 250 summons to close cheque bouncing cases. The bank sent out these summons involving customers in states of Maharashtra, Gujarat, West Bengal, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, and Uttar Pradesh.

A bank official quoted in a <i>PTI</i> report, explained, "We have been sending summons through e-mail, on WhatsApp. In many cases, we have seen that customers deny having received any summon at all if sent through post.

"It also happens that people change residence more often but their e-mail IDs and mobile phone number do not change in general, so we thought this is an effective means of communication," the official said.

The bank has been adopting this method after a Supreme Court appointed amicus curiae recommended closure of proceedings in all cheque bounce cases through digital means.

The offence falls under section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act that defines  the law relating to promissory notes, bills of exchange and cheques. HDFC Bank has sent nearly 250 summons through digital means so far and hopes to settle the cases falling under the Act in a speedy manner, said the official.

Sending digital summon assumes significance as the pending cheque bounce cases in various lower courts is clogging the criminal justice system, the bank official said.

There are over 1.93 crore criminal cases pending across the country, as per the latest data of National Judicial Data Grid.

On a second thought, the bank is yet to clarify how it intends to overcome the trouble of fake-summons, similar to fake-news that has rocked Whatsapp.

Also, should the practice of using Whatsapp be deemed innovative? This, especially around a time when the ethical issues surrounding Whatsapp usage are yet to be fully solved and the app itself remains mired around issues of "fake-news".

There is a genuine concern that technology could be abused by con-men to send in fake-summons? Should the Reserve Bank of India intervene and ask banks to look at the risks surrounding the social and banking integration of this practice?

Do drop in your responses in the comments section.