The counsel stated that a self-declaration will have to be given, but downloading the application was advisable.

Aarogya Setu not mandatory for travelling by flight or train Centre to Karnataka HC
news Court Saturday, June 13, 2020 - 11:22

Contact tracing app Aarogya Setu is not mandatory for those travelling by flight or train, the Centre told the Karnataka High Court on Friday. The government said that using the app was voluntary. Additional Solicitor General MB Nargund informed the court that a self-declaration will suffice. 

"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 to have it ;if they don't want to have don't have it,” he said, reported Livelaw. 

Read: Govt makes Aarogya Setu app open source amid privacy concerns

The petition filed by Anivar Aravind, a board member of the Software Freedom Law Centre (SFLC), was heard by Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice S Vishwajith Shetty. The counsel for the petitioner argued that making Aarogya Setu mandatory fundamentally violates the Right to Privacy. 

The petitioner had stated that Aarogya Setu was mandatory for offices, flights and airports, and trains. The Union of India stated that Aarogya Setu was made voluntary for flights, and the same thing applies for trains. The Airports Authority of India also said that Aarogya Setu was made voluntary. 

The lawyer for Anivar argued that the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare made it mandatory to install Aarogya Setu for employees in offices. However, while issuing guidelines for Lockdown 4.0, this has been watered down to have been done on “best effort basis”, and wasn’t mandatory. 

Also read: ‘Why force download of Aarogya Setu app?’ Private sector employees ask

The petition had also mentioned that while other democratic countries have also gone for similar solutions for contact tracing, the usage of those apps was voluntary and further, those apps were mostly using Bluetooth signals as opposed to India, which uses both Bluetooth as well as location services.

The petition will later be taken up on July 10. The hearing will also delve into questions raised by the petition including if the app is supported by law, and if central and state governments can make the use of Aarogya Setu mandatory to access public offices.  The government will file its response for the same.

Also read: In lockdown 4.0 guidelines, govt softens stand on mandatory download of Aarogya Setu

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