A notable feature of the guidelines issued by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs for the fourth phase of lockdown from May 18 to May 31 is the dilution of the mandatory condition for the use of ‘Aarogya setu’ , the contract tracing app developed by the National Informatics Centre in the wake of COVID-19 Pandemic.
The directive in the guidelines issued on Sunday, May 17, states: “With a view to ensuring safety in offices and work places, employers on best effort basis should ensure that Aarogya Setu is installed by employees having compatible mobile phones” and also stated that, “District authorities may advise individuals to install the Aarogya Setu application on compatible phones and regularly update their health status on the app”.
These directives are in contrast with the compulsive tone of the previous guidelines issued on May 1.
The violation of this direction would have exposed them to criminal prosecution under section 188 of the IPC, The latest guidelines also clarifies that the previous lockdown guidelines have ceased to have effect.
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.
Compared to the mandatory tone of previous condition, the present condition has an advisory tone.
By Shubhi Singhal of Law College Dehradun