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Delhi HC to hear plea tomorrow to de-link Aarogya setu app from website promoting e-pharmacies

News Agencies | Updated on: 13 May 2020, 17:47 IST

A petition was filed in the Delhi High Court on Wednesday seeking directions to immediately de-link the Aarogya setu app from a website which is promoting and acting as a "marketing tool" for e-pharmacies.

The petition, which submitted that there is no basis for a government-owned platform be used to promote private commercial ventures, is slated to come up for hearing on Thursday.

The plea, filed by South Chemists and Distributors Association, said that in an illegal, arbitrary and discriminatory manner, the website promotes and acts as marketing tool for e-pharmacies and continues to operate despite an injunction order by court.

It said that the actions are causing a grave prejudice to the petitioners and the customers are being misled to buy medicines only from e-pharmacies.

"It is raising doubts about the medicines being offered by the petitioners and the other local neighborhood pharmacies, which are suffering immensely due to the acts of the respondents," the plea said.

The plea said that the act is giving impression that home delivery cannot take place from the local pharmacy stores and one has to buy medicines only from the e-pharmacies.

The petition also sought directions to the respondent to take all steps to ensure that the name "aarogya setu" or any identical or deceptively similar name is not mis-used to sponsor the commercial interests of arbitrarily hand picked entities, and to direct immediate closure of the said website.

Respondents cannot act in an arbitrary, whimsical, unfair and discriminatory to allow the goodwill and recognition generated by the government owned mobile application, to be used for the commercial benefit of selected few entities.

"The respondents have allowed a government developed mobile application Aarogya setu, which has been launched with a salient feature of limiting the spread of COVID-19 disease, and has been mandatory by virtue of the order dated May 1, 2020, issued by the Secretary, Ministry of Home affairs in exercise of powers conferred under Section 10(2)(l) of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, to be used for the benefit of a selected handpicked companies," the plea said.

"The mobile application Aarogya setu, itself gives a link to website www.aarogyasetumitr.in, which gives a wrong and misleading impression to a user that the website as well as the information made available on it is also government mandated and approved," it added.

It said that providing a link to an external website on a government-developed mobile application amounts to giving a largesse and added that the respondents cannot act in an arbitrary and discriminatory manner and allow their offices to be used for selected entities.

It is submitted that there is no rationale or basis as to why the entire list of government authorized and licensed pharmacies is made available on the website AarogyaSetu Mitr, and the user is not informed that the medicines can be procured and made available from the nearest pharmacy stores, it said.

The plea said that medicines can be procured through local pharmacy stores itself and home delivered so as to ensure that social distancing is maintained during the current times.

"The criteria that to get listed as a vendor on www.aarogyasetumitr.in is that the entity should be an e-pharmacy is arbitrary, without any intelligible differentia, wholly illegal, discriminatory and in violation of Article 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India," the plea read.


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First published: 13 May 2020, 17:47 IST