A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Friday asked the Centre government to respond to a writ petition challenging the Centre’s directive to make the use of Aarogya Setu app mandatory for all employees, including those in the private sector.
The order was passed by the Bench comprising Justices Shaji P. Chali and M.R. Anitha.
In his petition, John Daniel, General Secretary, Thrissur District Congress Committee, points out that the app is a tracking mobile application, which uses the smart phones thorough GPS and Bluetooth features to track the coronavirus infected persons. It collects personal information during registration and stores it in the cloud. The directives was issued by the Centre as part of the National Directives for COVID-19 management .The directives said that it shall be the responsibility of the head of the respective organisations to ensure “100% use of the app among all employees.”
The petitioner pointed out that the Centre's directive had violated fundamental rights of the citizen. There was also a possibility of misuse of the personal information given to the app. It raised concerns of surveillance of citizens by the Centre as well. In fact, the directive also took away the right of a person to decide and control use of information about him/her. One was forced to give away data to a system.
The Centre's guidelines also had also made it clear that prosecution would be launched against those employers who did not comply with the directive, as per section 58 of the Disaster Management Act 2005.
An employer who had only a working relationship with an employee could not compel an employee to install a mobile application and use it diligently. Besides, the directive did not specify which department or ministry or officials would be the ones accessing the data, petition said.
The petitioner sought to strike down as unconstitutional the directive of the Centre.