Andhra HC restrains SEC from using ‘Watch’ app

Amaravati, Feb 5 : Amid a political war over poll code violations by monitoring apps in Andhra Pradesh ahead of the panchayat elections, the high court on Friday restrained State Election Commissioner (SEC) Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar from using ‘Watch’, a poll app he launched recently, until February 9.

More than one petition has been filed in the court challenging the app, which attracted criticism from the ruling YSR Congress Party as well as the BJP.

The petitioners as well as YSRCP leaders alleged that Kumar ignored the Election Commission of India’s (ECI) CVIGIL app and the state government’s apps and went for an altogether new app.

According to the plaintiffs, the State Election Commission allegedly did not have the required security certificate under the Andhra Pradesh cyber security policy and other government orders, while Kumar had failed to approach the relevant government agency to secure a security certificate.

Though the election commission’s newly appointed secretary Kannababu said that ‘Watch’ was completely developed inhouse, the petitioners alleged that it was not clear as to who exactly developed the digital app.

Meanwhile, the court observed that what purpose will the new app serve even as the model code of conduct has been imposed since January 8 and elections are scheduled to begin in a few days’ time.

It also quizzed as to how much money was spent on developing the app and who developed it, including if ‘Watch’ had the mandatory security certificate.

The court also questioned why the SEC was not using the app developed by the gram panchayat department, which was available since March 8, 2020.

C. Sumon, a lawyer attached with the advocate general’s office, apprised the court that the AP Technology Services (APTS) is the nodal agency for conducting security audit and issuing a security certificate, without which no app can come into play.

The court was informed that Kannababu wrote to APTS managing director on Thursday seeking a security audit for the app.

It was highlighted that APTS takes five days just to check the security worthiness of an app.

The high court is expected to take a look at this case again on February 9, which clashes with the polling day of the first phase of the four-phase panchayat elections in the southern state.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-generated from IANS service.

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