AMARAVATI: The Andhra Pradesh High Court in its orders on Tuesday has restrained the State Election Commission(SEC) from using the controversial mobile application e-Watch in the ongoing Gram Panchayat Elections till February 17.
A Division Bench led by CJ Arup Kumar Goswami also directed the SEC to file its response over the security concerns raised against the application to which the SEC said that it was ready to withdraw the e-Watch app.
E-Watch is an app launched by the Commissioner Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar to monitor the elections and reporting violations of Model Code of Conduct.
It may be recollected that a petition was filed in the AP high Court claiming that the app was not in compliance with the National Cyber Security Policy, 2013 and the Andhra Pradesh Cyber Security Police, 2017.
Further, it was also submitted that there are existing applications developed by the Election Commission of India (c-VIGIL) and the Panchayat Raj Department, State of Andhra Pradesh (NIGHAA). In the petition it also state that a necessary Security Audit Certification was yet to be obtained and without such certificate, the State Election Commission should not use the App.
On February 5, the Senior Advocate for the State government informed the Court that the SEC had already written a letter to the director of the Andhra Pradesh Technology Services Limited (APTSL), requesting to issue a Security Audit Certificate which will take around 4-5 days. The Counsel appearing for the Election Commission stated he was unaware about the development and sought time to take instructions and the matter was posted to February 9 with orders restricting the SEC to not use the app till the date of hearing.
When the matter came for hearing today the Bench asked the SEC counsel the State counsel submitted that the APTSL has raised security concerns about e-Watch to which the High Court,directed the SEC to clarify about the same and posted the case for further hearing . Meanwhile the Court extended the stay on use of e-Watch till the next hearing which was adjourned to February 17.