Aarogya Setu app not mandatory for air, train travel: Centre tells Karnataka HC

Aarogya Setu, coronavirus, COVID-19, Lockdown, privacy threat, data beach, coronavirus tracker
The Aarogya Setu app is used by lakhs of people. It traces people infected with COVID and is promoted by the government in its fight against the infection caused by the coronavirus. Photo: Facebook

Installation and usage of Aarogya Setu, a contact-tracing app for COVID-19, is optional and not mandatory for air and train travel, the Centre told the Karnataka High Court on Saturday (June 13).

The Union government clarified that the latest guidelines issued on the usage of the app need not be compulsorily followed since a passenger could also travel after submitting a self-declaration form.

Additional Solicitor General MB Nargund said, “A person can travel by air without having downloaded the Aarogya Setu app and the same thing applies for travel by railways. A self-declaration, though, will have to be given by the passenger. It is advisable to download the Aarogya Setu application. If they (passengers) want, they can have it; if they don’t want to have, they don’t need to,” reported Livelaw.

The petition on the issue of mandatory installation of Aarogya Setu was filed by Anivar Aravind, a board member of the Software Freedom Law Centre (SFLC).

Related news: Railways makes installing Aarogya Setu mobile app mandatory for travel

The counsel for the petitioner argued that making the usage of the application compulsory was a fundamental violation of the Right to Privacy.

The petition had also mentioned that while other democratic countries had opted for similar solutions for contact tracing, the usage of those apps was voluntary.

It also said those apps mostly used Bluetooth signals, unlike the ones in India, which used Bluetooth as well as location services.

The bench headed by Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka adjourned the hearing on the petition to July 10, and the Centre has been asked to file responses to contentions raised on the petition.

The next hearing is expected to look into questions raised by the petition, like whether the app is supported by law, and whether the central and state governments could make the use of Aarogya Setu mandatory to access public offices.

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