Under attack from the Opposition for collecting call data records (CDR) of Covid-19 patients, the Kerala government did a volte-face on Wednesday, saying that police required only the tower location of patients for contact tracing.
With Kerala seeing a surge in Covid-19 cases, the state government had earlier this month assigned police with contact tracing of virus cases and management of those under quarantine in containment zones. Subsequently, on August 11, the state police chief had directed the intelligence wing to collect CDR of all Covid-19 patients from mobile service providers for contact tracing. The permission of the patients was not sought before collecting their CDR.
The decision triggered widespread protest, but Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had justified the police action.
However, the government on Wednesday changed its stand in the Kerala High Court, which was hearing a petition by Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala who challenged the government’s direction to collect the CDR of all Covid-19 patients.
When the bench of Chief Justice S Manikumar asked the government about the purpose of CDR for location tracking of Covid-19 patients, Additional Advocate-General K K Ravindranath told the court that “police require only tower details where calls are made and received, and not more than that. Call records are erased after 14 days of quarantine”.
The court directed the government to file an affidavit on August 21. Senior advocate T Asafali, who appeared for the petitioner, pointed out that collecting CDR of patients is “illegal, unfair, unjust, arbitrary, fanciful and oppressive and is in violation of the fundamental rights of privacy of Covid-19 patients” guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.
The petitioner said Covid-19 patients are not in a position to have resorted to any legal remedies of their own for the injuries suffered by them on account of the “illegal acts” of the police.
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