Karnataka HC orders issue of notice to Centre on ‘Aarogya Setu’ app

The High Court of Karnataka on Thursday ordered issue of notice to the Union government on a PIL petition seeking direction that the ‘Aarogya Setu’ app be made voluntary and not compulsory for accessing any government service or facility such as rail and air travel.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice S. Vishwajith Shetty passed the order on the petition, filed by Anivar A. Aravind, a city-based software engineer working for a non-profit organisation to protect people’s rights in the digital space.

The Aarogya Setu app discriminates against persons who do not have a smart phone and also affects the right to privacy of citizens by mandating its use when it has access to the user’s location, it was contended in the petition.

It was also contended that in many other democratic countries, which have developed similar apps for contact tracing of persons testing positive for COVID-19, the action was voluntary, and most of the apps only used Bluetooth and not user location.

“The purpose of the Aarogya Setu app is to only inform the user if they come in contact with someone who has tested positive. This purpose can be served by basing the app on Bluetooth. There is no need to track the user’s location,” the petitioner claimed.

Considering that merely 35% of India’s population has access to smart phones, it was contended that the lower income groups would be further excluded from using railway or air services, for which the app has been made mandatory. “No other democratic country has made a contact tracing application mandatory for travel and access to public services,” the petition stated.

The petitioner also stated that the mobile phone was a personal device and the government did not have the authority for direct installation of any app on such a device.

Our code of editorial values

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jul 6, 2022 10:29:10 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/karnataka-hc-orders-issue-of-notice-to-centre-on-aarogya-setu-app/article31750104.ece