PIL has been moved in the Meghalaya HC challenging the mandatory imposition of “Corontine App” and “Stay Safe Meghalaya App” contact tracing apps by the state government.
Jade J. Lyngdoh, a student of National Law University, Jodhpur has challenged the March 29 order of the Government of Meghalaya mandating all persons who have been recommended for home quarantine/ isolation to download and use certain contact tracing apps- “Corontine App” and “Stay Safe Meghalaya App”, which are separate from the Union Ministry of Electronics and IT’s Aarogya Setu App.
The constitutional validity of the mandatory direction for use of ‘Aarogya Setu’ has been challenged in a slew of writ petitions filed in the High Court of Kerala. The petitioners submitted before the Courtin the case of tracing apps that the mandatory condition was unreasonable and arbitrary, as all the employees do not have smart phones. In the hearing held on May 12, the Court had orally asked the Centre regarding the practicability of the mandatory condition, given the fact that many employees have no smart phones.
The Court prima facie remarked that the petitioner had raised “valid concerns” regarding the coercive nature of the direction, and asked the Centre to respond to it. The Court had also asked the Centre to respond to the concerns raised regarding the privacy safeguards of the tracing apps .
The directives by MHA for tracing apps are in contrast with the compulsive tone of the previous guidelines issued on May 1, in which it was stated :
“Use of Aarogya Setu app shall be mandatory for all the employees, both private and public. It shall be the responsibility of the Head of the Respective Organization to ensure 100% coverage of this tracing apps among the employees”.
The following grounds have been raised in the PIL:
1. There exist no protocol/guidelines of the State Government vis-à-vis the collection, processing, storage, sharing and anonymization of the data, while using the aforesaid contact tracing mobile applications.
2. In the absence of any protocol regarding data privacy safeguards of the aforesaid mobile applications, the State Government could not have collaborated with any app developing agencies/ institutes for using the monitoring application, leave alone making it mandatory on the individuals of the State to install/ download the applications.
3. As such, the ‘Corontine App’ and ‘Stay Safe Meghalaya App” used by the State Respondents violates the core principles of data privacy and personal autonomy, including purpose limitation and data minimization.
4. The usage of the aforesaid mobile applications in its present form and its mandatory imposition on the individuals in the absence of any anchoring legislation and privacy policies constitute a disproportionate invasion of the constitutional rights of the public at large, and as such is required to be declared as illegal, unconstitutional and arbitrary.