(Eds: adding details) Kochi, Aug 19 (PTI) The Kerala government on Wednesday informed the High Court that the state police was not planning to collect Call Data Records of COVID-19 patients who are undergoing home quarantine, as well as at various hospitals.
The government stated this when a Public Interest Litigation filed by Leader of the Opposition in the Kerala assembly Ramesh Chennithala,seeking to quash a police circular directing collection of CDRs of COVID-19 patients, was considered for hearing by the court.
The government said it however planned to collect the records of the tower locations of the cell phones being used by the COVID-19 patients.
Additional Advocate General K K Ravindranath submitted that police require only the tower details from where the calls are made and received to find out the location of the COVID-19 patients and not more than that.
'To that extent, the Call Detail Records received are erased after 14 days of the quarantine period,' the government said.
Adjourning the matter to August 21, the Court directed the state government to file a statement on the matter.
A division bench, comprising Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly said prima facie they were of the view that all the clauses in the circular deal only with COVID-19 disease, its spread and prevention.
In his PIL filed on Monday, Chennithala alleged that collection of CDRs of COVID-19 positive patients by police is an illegal expansion of police powers, which was nothing but an infraction on the right to privacy of individuals.
He said the state police chief issued the circular on August 11, directing the Additional Director General of Police (Intelligence) and police headquarters to take up the matter with BSNL and Vodafone for prompt collection of CDRs.
Chennithala submitted that the circular was vague and worded in a very deceptive manner, which does not disclose the purpose for which CDRs of COVID-19 patients are required by police.
It is evident that there is no informed voluntary consent also obtained from the infected patients undergoing quarantine before collecting CDRs, he said.
Chennithala also alleged that a careful scrutiny of the circular would prove that police had started collection of CDRs of COVID-19 patients in massive numbers from telecom companies, even prior to its issuance and without the consent or knowledge of those infected by the virus. PTI COR TGB APR RAVINDRANATH APR RAVINDRANATH