A petition filed in Kerala High Court on Friday, challenging the directions issued by the Central government to make the use of 'Aarogya Setu' app mandatory for government and private sector employees. The petition, filed by Thrissur District Congress Committee General Secretary John Daniel through advocates Sriram Parakkat KS Sripathi and Anupama Subramanian, said that such directions violate the right to privacy and personal autonomy.
"Arogya Setu takes away the right of a person to decide and control the use of the information pertaining to him. He is forced to give away data to a system which he may or may not approve of, thereby attacking his right of informational autonomy," the plea said. It said that autonomy guaranteed by the Constitution of India also grants individual freedom not to take part in activities he does not approve of.
Aarogya Setu was launched by the Indian government on April 2 as the official app to help with contact tracing efforts. The app has been promoted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other BJP leaders and has been downloaded over 9 crore times already. The Centre has recently made the app mandatory for individuals in containment zones for COVID-19, and for all government officials.
The plea also refers to the recent interim order passed by the High Court in the "Sprinklr" case, where the importance of data privacy and data security was highlighted by the court. It said that the use of penal law to enforce the use of an app is arbitrary and unconstitutional.
"Section 58 of the Disaster Management Act 2005 imposes penal action upon employers of enterprises if their employees do not comply with the directive of usage of Arogya Setu. This is arbitrary to the extent that no penal action can be imposed on anyone having no mens rea," the plea said.
"An employer who has only a work relationship with an employee cannot compel the employee to install a mobile application and use it diligently and to provide his personal information to the domain," it added.
The petitioner sought directions to quash the directives terming them as unconstitutional and restraint the authorities from resorting to coercive action for enforcing the mandatory use of the application.
(With ANI inputs)