Enforcing Aarogya Setu is ‘utterly illegal’, says Justice Srikrishna

New Delhi: Aarogya Setu is a freely downloadable mobile application developed by the National Informatics Centre, Government of India to track COVID-19 affected persons. The application was released last month.

People are skeptical and hesitant to use this application as it may be used to keep track of them and record their personal activities.

The application collects personal information such as name, sex, age, phone number, current location and travel history which will be uploaded to government servers.

“Location data is used in order to protect the community. Data for only 30 days is stored on the app and data of positive patients too is deleted from the server 60 days after the date of cure,” assures Ajay Sawhney, Secretary, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.

According to The Indian Express, the former Supreme Court Judge B N Srikrishna who is the member of the committee for Personal Data Protection Bill, regards the use of Aarogya Setu application as “utterly illegal.”

Aarogya Setu App guidelines were issued by the National Executive Committee set up under the National Disaster Management (NDMA), 2005. Justice Srikrishna said these two bodies are not statutory. 

The Ministry of Home Affairs has made the use and installation of the application mandatory in mobile phones from May 1. In Noida, police already announced that an imprisonment up to six months or fine up to Rs. 1,000 if the application is not found in mobile phones.

“The Noida police order is totally unlawful. I am assuming this is still a democratic country and such orders can be challenged in court,” said Justice Srikrishna.

“Under what law do you mandate it on anyone? So far it is not backed by any law,” says he.

The Aarogya Setu has been made mandatory for passengers travelling by special Rajdhani trains from today. The passengers should reach railway stations 90 minutes before departure. They will have to undergo thermal screening and if no symptoms of COVID-19 are detected they will be allowed to board the train. 

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