Centre delinks site promoting online drug sale from Setu | India News

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NEW DELHI: The Centre on Friday told the Delhi high court it has delinked from the official Aarogya Setu mobile app, a website promoting sale of medicines through e-pharmacies.
Appearing for the ministry of Information and Technology, additional solicitor general Maninder Acharya informed a bench of Justice Navin Chawla that the website has been removed as a link from the Aarogya setu mobile application and it can no longer be accessed from the application.
HC then asked the government to also answer how it can list a website selling online medicines to an official mobile app when the Delhi high court has last year stayed such online sale without a license. It directed the government to be ready with a response on nextdate of hearing on June 9th.
The court’s order came on a plea filed by a chemists group – South Chemists and Distributors Association against the website being linked to the official mobile application Aarogya Setu.
It said the link was done in a “highly illegal, arbitrary and discriminatory manner” as the website promotes and acts as a marketing tool for e-pharmacies only and the homepage of the website states “here are some essential healthcare services you can avail from the safety and comfort of your home” and then lists only the e-pharmacies.
“There is no mention that medicines can also be procured by the local pharmacy stores which operate offline. It is submitted that the respondents (authorities) cannot be allowed to mislead the users of a government developed and mandated mobile application to believe that the drugs for treatment of Covid-19 or to contain the spread of the disease are available only through the e-pharmacies,” senior advocate Sudhir Nandrajog on behalf of the association argued.
Earlier the Centre had opposed the plea and said these are extraordinary circumstances and the website has been developed for easy accessibility of medicines to Covid-19 patients.
The association had then said the government should also allow offline pharmacies / local chemists having licences to be also listed on the website contending that there is absolutely no basis for a government-owned platform to be used to promote private commercial ventures.
It had also sought direction to the Ministry of Electronics and IT, National Informatics Centre and Niti Aayog to take steps so that the name ”aarogya setu” or any identical/ deceptively similar name is not mis-used to sponsor the commercial interests of arbitrarily hand picked entities.
The plea said the authorities have allowed government developed mobile application ”Aarogya setu”, which has been launched to limit and control spread of Covid-19, to be used for the benefit of a few handpicked companies
It claimed that the similarity in the names of the mobile application and the website is “intentional” and the website seeks to take advantage of the name and goodwill which has been generated by Aarogya setu, even though the website is not government-owned.

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