Kerala high court refuses stay on mandatory use of Arogya setu app
Aarogya Setu is a Covid-19 contact tracing app but critics say that the Centre’s directive to download the app compulsorily violates fundamental rights of citizens
The Kerala High Court on Tuesday refused to pass an interim order to stay the mandatory downloading of ‘Arogya Setu’ app on employees’ phones and sought a statement from the central government on data safeguards of the app being developed by the National Informatics Centre.
A bench comprising Justices Anu Sivaraman and M R Anitha asked the Centre whether it can give a guarantee that the information collected by the app would not be misused at any time. The counsel for the central government said privacy of data was ensured and it will submit a detailed statement in this regard during the next hearing. He said it has been recognised as the best app in the world fighting the Covid-19 and lakhs of people have already downloaded it.
“Extraordinary situation calls for extraordinary measures, we will come back to it in normal circumstances,” the bench observed while posting the matter for further hearing on May 18. Last month the court had also refused to stay the Kerala Government’s decision to engage a US firm ‘Sprinklr’ in vetting the data collected by health workers.
Last week Thrissur District Congress Committee general secretary John Daniel had moved the court saying the Centre’s directive to download the ‘Arogya Setu’ app compulsorily violated the fundamental rights of citizens and there were also chances of misusing personal data collected through the app. He also pointed out the Centre’s guidelines made it clear that employees who do not comply with the directive will have to face prosecution under the Disaster Management Act.
On April 29, the Centre had directed all officers and other employees of the government to download the ‘Arogya Setu’ app on their mobile phones immediately. Similarly it also instructed rail and air passengers to download the app for their travel.