Andhra Pradesh High Court puts a stay order on the use of e-Watch App for reporting poll violations

The Andhra Pradesh High Court has prevented the State Election Commission from using the mobile application e-Watch that was launched to report violations of Model Code of Conduct and to curb malpractices during the upcoming Panchayat elections in the State. The division Bench also directed the State Election Commission to respond to the security concerns raised against the application.

The Petition was filed under Article 226 of the Constitution alleging that the launch of E-watch did not comply with the National Cyber Security Policy, 2013 and the Andhra Pradesh Cyber Security Police, 2017.
In addition, it was also reported that there are existing applications developed by the Election Commission of India and the Panchayat Raj Department of Andhra Pradesh.

When the case was heard on February 5, Senior Advocate C Sumon who appeared for the State government told the Court that the State Election Commission had already written a letter to the director of the Andhra Pradesh Technology Services Limited, requesting to “issue a Security Audit Certificate” which will take a few days.

The electoral commission attorney stated that he is unaware about the developments and sought time to receive the instructions that were issued.

The Court adjourned the matter, therefore, for February 9 while also ordering that the application should not be used before February 9.

When the court was apprehended again on February 9, it inquired with the State Election Commission whether it had any objections to the use of existing applications, to which they replied that they had no objection.

The State counsel meanwhile submitted that the APTSL has raised security concerns with regard to e-Watch.

The Court, therefore, asked the State Election Commission to clarify about the same and submitted the case for further hearing on February 17.
The stay on use of e-Watch will continue in the meantime.

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