Delhi High Court on Thursday issued a notice to the Central government on a petition seeking directions to immediately de-link the Aarogya setu app from a website that is promoting and acting as a “marketing tool” for e-pharmacies.
A bench of Justice Jayant Nath asked the Central government to file its reply on the matter and listed it for further hearing on May 29.
The court was hearing a petition filed by South Chemists and Distributors Association, which said that in a highly illegal, arbitrary, and discriminatory manner the website promotes and acts as a marketing tool for e-pharmacies and operates despite an injunction order by the court.
It said that the actions are causing 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 the impression that home delivery cannot take place from the local pharmacy stores and one has to buy medicines only from the e-pharmacies.
“The mobile application Aarogya Setu, itself gives a link to a 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,” the plea said.
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.
The plea 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 misused 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 manner 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 plea said.
It 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.