WhatsApp Privacy Policy Day #1: Union Seeks to Postpone Hearing

Whatsapp-Facebook Privacy

Judges: K.M. Joseph J, Ajay Rastogi J, Aniruddha Bose J, Hrishikesh Roy J, C.T. Ravikumar J

On January 31st 2023, A 5-Judge Constitution Bench led by Justice K.M. Joseph heard the petitions challenging WhatsApp’s 2016 and 2021 Privacy Policy. The policies permit WhatsApp to share data with Facebook and all its group companies for the purposes of commercial advertising and marketing.


In 2014, when WhatsApp was bought by Facebook, it stated that its privacy policy would not change. Yet, in August 2016, they changed their privacy policy. The new policy said that account information of users including users’ phone numbers and contact details will be shared with Facebook and other companies. An announcement was made that the new policy would come into effect after September 25, 2016.

Worried by this announcement, Karmanya Singh and Shreya Sethi – two students filed a petition challenging the privacy policy in the Delhi High Court.

A two-judge Bench of the Delhi High Court rejected the petition on September 23rd 2016. The Court, however, directed WhatsApp to delete the data, until September 25th 2016, of users who choose to delete the application. 

Thereafter, the petitioners filed a Special Leave Petition at the Supreme Court against the Delhi High Court judgment. The SLP was initially heard by a Division Bench and referred to a Constitution Bench on April 5th, 2017.

Union seeks to Postpone Hearings, Petitioners Stress Urgency 

Sr. Adv. Kapil Sibal, representing WhatsApp, & Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Union, suggested that the matter be heard after The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2022 is introduced at Parliament.

Mr. Sibal claimed that the Bill will solve a lot of the issues raised by the petitioners. He stated that the Bill will be introduced at Parliament during the second half of the current session, beginning on March 13th, 2023.

Sr. Adv. Shyam Divan, appearing for one of the petitioners, argued that their petition was independent. It could not be postponed based on the possibility that the Bill may resolve the issues raised in the petition. 

The Bench is expected to hear the parties again on February 1st 2023.