AP local body polls: HC directs SEC to hold back using e-Watch app

Amaravati: Andhra Pradesh high court on Friday directed the state election commission to postpone the enabling and use of the e-Watch app, a mobile application launched to keep a check on poll-related irregularities.

The application developed by Reliance Jio at the request of the commission was launched on Wednesday, for use in the gram panchayat elections.

Three public interest litigations were filed challenging the action of the SEC in developing a mobile phone app when there are two apps, developed by the central election commission and the state panchayat raj department, already in existence. One of the PILs also questioned if the personal information of the citizens is protected or not.

A division bench of Chief Justice Arup Kumar Goswami and Justice Ch. Praveen Kumar asked the SEC about the purpose of the app by noting that the model code of conduct had already been in force since January 9 and the elections are to be held shortly. It asked how much was spent on developing the app and who developed it. The high court bench also asked SEC why it had not used the app developed by the gram panchayat department available since March 2020.

It has then directed the commission to not enable or use the e-Watch app until February 9, to which date the matter is now posted.

The first phase of the local body elections in Andhra Pradesh will begin on February 9. Gram panchayats under 146 revenue mandals in 11 districts will go to the polls, according to the notification.