Former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh ideologue K.N. Govindacharya has asked the Supreme Court to revive his 2019 petition seeking court-monitored investigation into the Pegasus spyware and lodging of FIR against Facebook, WhatsApp, NSO Group and others involved in the “illegal surveillance”.
Mr. Govindacharya said the Pegasus surveillance amounted to “cyber terrorism” and was punishable under the Information Technology Act. He said the entities involved should be brought to book for violating the privacy and personal liberty of citizens.
A Bench led by Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana is scheduled to hear 10 petitions, including one filed by senior journalists N. Ram and Sashi Kumar, who are also seeking a direction from the court to direct the Centre to come clean on whether it had used the military-grade Pegasus technology, created by the Israeli-based NSO Group, to spy on dissenters, activists, parliamentarians, Ministers, lawyers and journalists.
Mr. Govindacharya had chosen to withdraw his petition in 2019. He had sought a National Investigation Agency probe into the snooping scandal.
Seeking a revival of his case, he said his was the first petition filed when the Pegasus snooping allegations came to the fore.
Recently, the Chief Justice of India had asked in open court why people had been silent for two years about the Pegasus surveillance and chosen to approach court in 2021 only.
Mr. Govindacharya said he was an apolitical person and was “not swayed by shades of politics that surround the subject of privacy”. He said he “always had the national interest in mind”.
“The targeted nature of Pegasus has caused huge fear in the minds of the public. This illegal surveillance presents the biggest threat to life and personal liberty... A fair, impartial and responsible investigation is required to ascertain the magnitude of the use of Pegasus in India, and the entities responsible for the same,” he submitted in an application filed by advocate Sachin Mittal.
Mr. Govindacharya said the protection of fundamental rights was essential to the rule of law.
“Privacy of crores of Indians cannot be curbed without following the procedure established by law, and any such instances is violative of Article 14 (right to equality) of the Constitution,” he submitted.