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SC asks pvt labs to conduct corona test for free

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Supreme Court

New Delhi, April 8 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered all coronavirus infection patients to be tested free of cost.

A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and S. Ravindra Bhat said, “The tests relating to COVID-19, whether in approved government laboratories or approved private laboratories, shall be free of cost. The respondents (Union of India) shall issue necessary direction in this regard immediately.”

The apex court order came on a petition filed by advocate Shashank Deo Sudhi challenging the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) advisory to fix maximum Rs 4,500 for corona test by private entities.

The petition also sought direction that all such tests be conducted by accredited pathological laboratories, and to strike down the ICMR advisory for allegedly being violative of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution.

“Private hospitals, including laboratories, have an important role to play in containing the scale of the pandemic by extending philanthropic services in the hour of national crisis. We thus are satisfied that the petitioner has made out a case for issuing a direction to the respondents to issue necessary direction to accredited private labs to conduct free of cost COVID-19 test”, said the court in an interim order.

Suggesting free tests, the petitioner also claimed that capping test charges at private labs violates the ideals and values of the Constitution. The top court observed whether the private laboratories carrying free of cost COVID-19 tests are entitled for any reimbursement of expenses incurred, would be looked into later.

“We further are of the view that tests relating to COVID-19 must be carried out in NABL (National Accreditation Board for Testing & Calibration Laboratories) accredited labs or any agencies approved by ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research)”, observed the top court.

The court observed that it finds prima facie substance in the submission of petitioner that at this time of national calamity, permitting private labs to charge Rs 4,500 for screening and confirmation test of COVID-19 may not be within the means of a large part of population of this country and no person can be deprived to undergo the COVID-19 test due to nonpayment of capped amount of Rs 4,500. The court noted that government laboratories are already conducting COVID-19 tests for free.

India

Delhi riots: Court extends Safoora Zargar’s custody till June 25

Former JNU student Umar Khalid, Jamia Alumni Association President Shifa-Ur-Rehman and Jamia student Asif Iqbal Tanha have also been booked under the UAPA in connection with the case.

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Safoora Zargar

New Delhi, May 26 : A Delhi court on Tuesday extended the judicial custody of two Jamia Millia Islamia students, Safoora Zargar and Meeran Haider, by one month.

The duo was arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) in a case pertaining to the communal riots in northeast Delhi in February, which left at least 53 people dead and 200 injured.

The students were produced before Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana of the Patiala House Court through video conferencing at the end of their remand period, following which it was extended further till June 25.

Another Jamia student, Gulfisha Khatoon, activist Khalid Saifi, former Congress councilor Ishrat Jahan and suspended Aam Aadmi Party councilor Tahir Hussain were also produced before the court.

Their matter will again be taken up by the court on May 28.

Former JNU student Umar Khalid, Jamia Alumni Association President Shifa-Ur-Rehman and Jamia student Asif Iqbal Tanha have also been booked under the UAPA in connection with the case.

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India

Amid privacy concerns, Centre makes Aarogya Setu app open source

“The key pillars of Aarogya Setu have been transparency, privacy and security and in line with India’s policy on Open Source Software, the source code of Aarogya Setu has now been made open source,”

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Arogya Setu App

New Delhi, May 26 : In a bid to allay the privacy concerns regarding the Aarogya Setu app, the Centre on Tuesday announced it was making the mobile application open source, allowing researchers, experts and developers to understand how it works and the personal data processed through it.

The source code for the Android version of the application is available for review and collaboration on Github. The iOS version of the application will be released as open source within the next two weeks and the server code will be released subsequently, an official statement said.

Almost 98 per cent of Aarogya Setu users are on Android platform, it added.

“The key pillars of Aarogya Setu have been transparency, privacy and security and in line with India’s policy on Open Source Software, the source code of Aarogya Setu has now been made open source,” said the Electronics & IT Ministry statement.

It said that opening the source code to the developer community signifies the government’s continuing commitment to the principles of transparency and collaboration.

“With the release of the source code in the public domain, we are looking to expanding collaboration and to leverage the expertise of top technical brains amongst the talented youth and citizens of our nation and to collectively build a robust and secure technology solution to help support the work of frontline health workers in fighting this pandemic together,” the statement said.

The government has also announced a bug bounty program for the app, whereby the government will pay a cash price of Rs 1 lakh to any developer who finds bugs or loopholes in the application.

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Disaster

608 flights ferry over 41k passengers today

According to the minister, India’s airports have handled 325 departures and 283 arrivals with 41,673 passengers till 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

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Air India Flight

New Delhi, May 26 : A day after India resumed domestic flights, a total of 608 services ferrying 41,673 passengers were operated till 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

Taking to Twitter, Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said smooth operations were witnessed on Tuesday.

According to the minister, India’s airports have handled 325 departures and 283 arrivals with 41,673 passengers till 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

“Smooth operations of domestic civil aviation… Our airports have handled 325 departures & 283 arrivals with 41,673 passengers till 5 p.m. on May 26, the 2nd day after recommencement of domestic flights. Final report for the day will be prepared after details come in at midnight,” he tweeted.

Earlier during the day, the minister in a different tweet said the number of passengers and flights were set to rise as air services to Andhra Pradesh were resumed on Tuesday.”

“Airports are abuzz & passengers are back,” Puri tweeted.

He had said that 58,318 passengers flew to their destinations on 832 flights on May 25, the first day of resumption of air services after two months. “These numbers are set to soar,” he tweeted.

But for West Bengal, domestic flights have been resumed to all states.

Industry insiders said the majority of bookings on Monday and the subsequent few more days were for flights between Metros due to the “pent-up demand”.

Airlines have reported healthy load factors and expected passenger count levels.

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