Karnataka High Court: Petitioner put into picture on compulsion of Aarogya Setu app usage
“The use and installation of Aarogya Setu, the contact tracing app developed by national informatics centre, is still mandatory even though the clarifications made by the central government,”
Karnataka: "The use and installation of Aarogya Setu, the contact tracing app developed by national informatics centre, is still mandatory even though the clarifications made by the central government," submitted Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves before the High court of Karnataka.
The court is hearing the petition filed by Anivar Aravind, cybersecurity activist, raising privacy concerns about the app.
"Despite statements made in the court, all across the country, it (AarogyaSetu app) is being made mandatory. Notifications are being issued for making it mandatory. Even in Karnataka, the use of the application is made compulsory by Bengaluru Metro Rail Corporation Limited, some reports suggest", the senior counsel submitted. Opposing the submission of senior counsel, Advocate Kumar M N, appeared the Union of India arguing that there is no order issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs making use of the application mandatory.
"Let the petitioner bring it to the notice of the court if there are any restrictions imposed by any authority," says Kumar.
Earlier, the Central Government had submitted before the court that the use of AarogyaSetu was not mandatory for travel by air or rail, and it was completely voluntary.
The Court adjourned the hearing asking the petitioner to place on record details of a notification issued by the Government making installation of the AarogyaSetu application, mandatory.
The division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice M Naga Prasanna posted the matter for further hearing on July 17.
The Central Government Counsel also sought time to respond to the queries raised by the bench. The Court had directed the state and the central government to file its statement of objections on the larger issues rose in the petition regarding "Whether the Central and State Governments can make use of the AarogyaSetu application mandatory as a condition for accessing all public offices. Is the action of the Central Government introducing the application supported by law?"
Justice Oka said, "In the Standard Operating Procedure issued by the High Court, the use of the AarogyaSetu application is advised and not made mandatory."
The petitioner submitted that many countries across the world launched mobile apps for contact tracing of persons who test positive for COVID-19. Those applications are voluntary and most of these applications across the world use only Bluetooth and do not access the location of the user. However, the application launched on April 2, by the National Informatics Centre for contact tracing and which has been downloaded more than 100 million times by users, has been using location services and Bluetooth to track users.