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Messaging app WhatsApp on Friday apologized and withdrew an email it sent to Delhi high court seeking the removal of the judge hearing its privacy policy case, after the judge took strong objection to it on the grounds that she was going to recuse herself anyway.

Counsel for WhatsApp had written to the court that Justice Prathibha M. Singh should not hear the petition challenging its privacy policy change because she had appeared as senior counsel against the company in the Supreme Court in 2016, also in a case about WhatsApp’s privacy policy.

Singh said the e-mail was completely unwarranted because she was anyway going to recuse herself from hearing the case filed by lawyer Chaitanya Rohilla, who argues WhatsApp’s updated policy “virtually gives a 360-degree profile into a person’s online activity", thus violating the individual’s right to privacy.

The petition also said that WhatsApp has put a “Damocles sword on its users" to accept its new privacy policy by 8 February.

When the matter was listed on Friday, Singh mentioned the e-mail in open court. “The court has received an e-mail. I take strong objection to that. There was no need to send this e-mail. I was myself not going to hear this matter," she said.

Senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for WhatsApp, acceded that the email should not have been sent. Advocate Tejas Karia, who sent the e-mail on behalf of WhatsApp, apologized to the court and said he would withdraw it.

The court posted the matter for Monday, when it will be heard by a different bench, subject to the orders of the chief justice of the high court.

Rohilla’s plea said Facebook-owned WhatApp’s new norms jeopardize the security of the nation by allowing user data to be shared, transmitted, and stored in another country.

It alleged that WhatsApp was integrating people into Facebook so that Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram (another subsidiary of Facebook) all become part of one package.

The new privacy policy, which was rolled out by WhatsApp on 4 January, includes mandatory sharing of data with the parent company.

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