Monday, August 8, 2022

Kerala High Court takes suo motu notice on Periyar river water quality, seeks report

Kerala High Court on Tuesday took suo motu notice of news reports about deteriorating water quality of Periyar river and sought reports from State Pollution Control Board and Water Authority.

A Divison Bench headed by Justice Devan Ramachandran sought a report on the matter and posted it for hearing on April 24.

“We want to know how this happened, we want to know the truth of this,” the court observed.

Earlier, there were news reports that the water of the river had turned black at some isolated places.

In another hearing, the Kerala High Court on Tuesday asked the state government to file a report on a petition challenging its agreement with US-based company Sprinklr for processing of data related to coronavirus patients.

A bench of Justices Devan Ramachandran and TR Ravi sought a report and emphasized that the issue should be treated seriously and slated the matter for further hearing on April 24.
“We don’t want the COVID-19 epidemic to be substituted by a data epidemic. We are proud Kerala has done well in controlling COVID. But we also have concerns about data confidentiality. Information you are uploading on the server is your responsibility,” the court said.

“Why do you require Saas now when the COVID cases are low? Where is the guarantee that the data will remain confidential? Unless you are able to guarantee us data confidentiality, the uploading of information to a third party server will remain a problem,” it added.

The court said that it can’t accept the submission that the data is not sensitive information. “If Kerala government thinks the information is not sensitive, something is amiss,” the court said.

“Health data is sensitive. Where is the guarantee that the data will remain confidential? What was the requirement of a third-party service provider? The government should explain how they accepted New York as the jurisdictional court in case of a dispute,” it said.

Justice TR Ravi said that he saw in an interview that the contract did not even go to the law department. “The government will have to explain why this was so,” he added.

The Kerala government told the High Court that the contract was necessary for the compelling circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The counsel for the Central government said that “the policy of the Centre is that government machinery should be used for data collection and data processing. The Centre also wants to request the Kerala Govt to keep it within the country.”

Kerala High Court told the state government that it does not want it to upload the data unless it can tell that data is confidential from Sprinklr as well.

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