Vijayawada: Andhra Pradesh High Court, through an interim order on Friday, to the State Election Commission to keep aside the newly launched software application called ‘eWatch’.
The app developed by a private agency on demand from the SEC, was meant to keep a watch on poll-related irregularities. The court posted the next hearing to February 9.
A division bench of Chief Justice Arup Kumar Goswami and Justice Ch. Praveen Kumar heard a batch of petitions challenging the SEC decision to introduce its own app to receive complaints from citizens on irregularities in the gram panchayat polls and detect any violation of the model code of conduct.
The petitioners contended that an app developed by the Election Commission of India and another by the AP Panchayat Raj department were available but surprisingly did not find acceptance with the SEC.
They argued that the app developed for the SEC by a private firm did not having the security certificate required under the Andhra Pradesh Cyber Security Policy, 2017. “Also, this app is not in compliance with several GOs issued on security aspects.”
Moreover, the petitioners contended that the SEC did not approach the Andhra Pradesh Technology Services for the conduct of a security audit vis-à-vis this app and for issue of a security certificate.
The petitioners also raised apprehensions on security features of the app and whether personal information of complainants would be protected.
The court asked the SEC about the purpose of the app by noting that the model code of conduct had already been in force since January 9 and the elections are to be held shortly. It asked how much was spent on developing the app and who developed it.
It asked the SEC whether the app was having the mandatory security audit certificate? The court also questioned the SEC as to why it had not used the app already developed by the Panchayat Raj department that was on offer.
Government pleader C. Suman informed the court that the AP Technology Services was the nodal agency for conducting security audit and issuing of a security certificate and said no app could be put into use without obtaining such a mandatory certificate.
He informed the court that the SEC secretary K. Kannababu had written a letter to the APTS seeking a security audit and said that it would take him five days to check the security aspects of the app.