The Kerala High Court on Friday closed a PIL filed by Leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly Ramesh Chennithala, seeking to quash a police circular directing collection of Call Data Records of COVID-19 patients. The court allowed the state government's submission that it planned only to collect the records of the tower locations of the cell phones being used by the patients.
A division bench, comprising Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly, directed the state government and police to ensure strict confidentiality of the call detail records (CDR) collected and also to ensure that they are not accessed by any third parties as affirmed before the court. The court directed that CDR details collected should not be used for any other purpose.
Considering the submission made by counsel for Chennithala seeking direction to the government to re-issue circular and issue a corrigendum to the effect that the CDR details of COVID-19 patients are only for the purpose of tracing out the tower location, the court said it was open to the government and police to consider the same. When the court took up the matter on Wednesday,Additional Advocate General KK Ravindranath had 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 had said. Chennithala has 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.