HC dismisses plea against Arogya Setu

Central govt. says guidelines on the use of the app have been relaxed

A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Friday dismissed a public interest litigation challenging the Centre’s mandatory directive to use the Aarogya Setu app by all employers and employees, including those in the private sector.

The Bench led by Chief Justice S. Manikumar dismissed the petition in the view of the submission by the Central government standing counsel Jaishankar Nair that the guidelines on the use of the Arogya Setu app by employers and employees had been relaxed.

He submitted that the unlock 1 guidelines stipulated that employers “on best effort basis” should ensure that the Arogya Setu app was installed by employees having compatible mobiles phones. The guidelines further provided that the district authorities may advise individuals to install the app on compatible mobile phones and regularly update their health status on the app.

This would facilitate timely provision of medical attention to those individuals who are at risk. He submitted that the app enables early identification of the potential risk of infection and acts as shield for the individual and the community.

Petitioner’s charge

The petition had challenged the Center’s mandatory directive issued as part of the national directives for Covid-19 management to all employers to ensure that the app was used by all the employees. The directive had made it clear that 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 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, 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.

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