Karnataka HC to hear plea on mandatory use of app for interim relief
“The Court is not concerned whether Aarogya Setu app is good or bad…The issue at this stage is whether State…can make downloading of Aarogya Setu app mandatory”, the Bench stated.Rintu Mariam Biju
Airports Authority of India (AAI) and Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) today informed the Karnataka High Court that they have revised their guidelines to make the downloading of the Aarogya Setu app voluntary.
A Division Bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Ashok S Kinagi was informed of this new development while dealing with a plea challenging the mandatory use of the Aarogya Setu app to access public services.
Earlier, the Court had directed the AAI and the state government to clarify whether passengers who wish to travel by air were required to download the Aarogya Setu tracking app.Karnataka HC asks Airports Authority, State to clarify whether air passengers are required to use Aarogya Setu App
When the matter was taken up for hearing today, Senior Counsel Colin Gonsalves, appearing for the petitioner, submitted that in the Court’s order of August 3, the State was to explain whether installation and use of the Aarogya Setu App was mandatory for international travel. Till date, the state government has not responded on the issue, Gonsalves informed the Court.
Raising another pertinent inconsistency, Gonsalves contended that while counsel for the Central government stated that it is not mandatory to use Aarogya Setu, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has issued a circular saying that all the officers including outsourced staff working with the Centre should download the Aarogya setu App immediately.
Relying on the celebrated Puttaswamy judgment, Gonsalves argued that without an explicit law, collection, storage or sharing of citizens’ data is prohibited.
However, BMRCL submitted that it had not started its operations and that, the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to be followed shall only be finalized when operations resume.
During the course of the hearing, AAI also informed the Court that it had revised its previous guidelines, and that now, downloading of the Aarogya Setu app is not mandatory.
Taking note of all the submissions, the Court stated that it would hear the matter on interim prayer.
“Can State and agencies of State make downloading of the Aarogya Setu App mandatory? …Can any service be denied if persons refrain to download the Aarogya Setu App? These are the main issues. We will hear the matter on interim relief.”
Karnataka High Court
The Court also refused to entertain an intervention application on the ground that the party had no locus in the matter. The applicant, a user of the Aarogya Setu app, had submitted that the app is very good and useful.Use or downloading of Aarogya Setu COVID-19 tracking App not mandatory for Flight/ Train Travel: Centre tells Karnataka High Court
Failing to find merit in this contention, the Bench opined that the only question now is with respect to Article 21.
“This Court is not concerned whether Aarogya Setu app is good or bad and nature and extent of services available to those who use the app. The issue at this stage is whether State or its agencies and instrumentalities can make downloading of Aarogya Setu app mandatory to enable citizens to avail services.”
Karnataka High Court
The matter will be next heard on September 3.