Aarogya Setu move illegal, says ex-judge

Aarogya Setu move illegal, says ex-judge

S. Sivadas

S. Sivadas

The former Supreme Court Judge, Mr Justice BN Srikrishna, has termed as ‘utterly illegal’ the Centre’s push to make Aarogya Setu app mandatory for citizens. He questioned under which law was the government taking such a decision.

His reaction comes after the Ministry of Home Affairs, in its revised guidelines, made Aarogya Setu App mandatory for employees of private and public sector offices. The Home Ministry has asked the local authorities to ensure 100% coverage of the app in containment zones.

The Noida police has also said that not having the Aarogya Setu application will be punishable with imprisonment up to six months or fine up to Rs 1,000. The passengers travelling on special trains have also been mandated to have the Aarogya Setu app installed on their phones for travel.

'Under what law do you mandate it on anyone? So far it is not backed by any law,' the former judge who chaired the committee that came out with the first draft of the Personal Data Protection Bill said.

The guidelines were issued on May 1 by the National Executive Committee set up under the National Disaster Management Act (NDMA), 2005. He said the guidelines issued by the MHA cannot be considered as having sufficient legal backing.

'These pieces of legislation both the National Disaster Management Act and Epidemic Diseases Act are for a specific reason. The national executive committee in my view is not a statutory body,' he said.

Reacting to the Noida police decision, he said, 'The order is totally unlawful. I am assuming this is still a democratic country and such orders can be challenged in court.'

The Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions had on April 29 also issued a similar directive wherein central government employees were told that it is mandatory to use the Aarogya Setu app.

Aarogya Setu is a mobile application developed by the Ministry of Electronics and IT to help citizens identify their risk of contracting COVID-19. The government has claimed that using the application will help break the chain of coronavirus. The app helps users self diagnose, provides latest updates and even stores and displays the e-pass.

The virus has killed over 2,200 people in India and infected more than 75,000.