In a new development, the Centre informed the Karnataka government that the Aarogya Setu app is not a mandatory requirement to travel via air or rail on Friday, June 12. The app has now been declared an option for travellers who may submit a self-declaration form instead. 

Till now, there has been a lot of debate on whether or not the app is a compulsory requirement for those looking to travel. The app which is meant to help the government in contact-tracing is not a must as Additional Solicitor General MB Nargund informed the court. 

Aarogya Setu App
The Railways has made it mandatory for passengers to download the Aarogya Setu app before commencing their journey.Twitter

'Aarogya Setu no more a requirement to travel'

Till now, the mandatory nature of the Aarogya Setu app has not been adequately touched upon and it was presumed to be one of the prerequisites for travel via train or flight amid the pandemic. Now, in a new move, the Centre has declared the app, only an option for those wishing to travel, who may choose to submit a self-declaration form instead of at the time of travel to the Karnataka High Court. 

The announcement came during the hearing of a PIL filed by A Aravind a Bengaluru-based software engineer before the Division Bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice E S Indiresh. Aravind has been fighting for people's rights in the digital arena. His petition contended that the app is a violation of the Right to Privacy. 

The PIL also contended making all employees of organisations mandatorily download the app which has over 120 million downloads and restricting access to government services. Moreover, compared to other countries with similar apps that use Bluetooth signals for monitoring movement, Aarogya Setu uses both Bluetooth as well as location services. 

Solicitor General MB Nargund stated the Government's statement on the issue, "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," as quoted by Livelaw. 

Following the hearing, the Bench decided that the petitioner's contention that the app is mandatory for air and rail travel no longer needs to be considered. But, the Bench has asked the Union government to issue a statement of objection to other contentions i.e. mandatory use of the app in accessing government services, the enforced use of the app without the support of the law, and that the app violates Right To Privacy. 

The next hearing on the matter is slated for July 10th.