Pegasus issue National

Pegasus | Hearing on petitions seeking probe on August 5

A view of the Supreme Court of India. File  

A Supreme Court Bench led by Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana is scheduled to hear on August 5 a petition filed by senior journalists N. Ram and Sashi Kumar for an independent probe headed by a former or sitting top court judge into the mass surveillance of over 142 potential “targets”, including journalists, lawyers, ministers, Opposition politicians, constitutional functionaries and civil society activists, using military-grade Israeli spyware Pegasus.

The Supreme Court would also hear separate petitions filed by Rajya Sabha member John Brittas and Supreme Court advocate M.L. Sharma on the same issue, which has seen more petitions being filed, including one by the Editors Guild of India for an independent investigation into the Pegasus allegations and another by five journalists who were targets of surveillance.

Mr. Ram and Mr. Kumar, in their petition, have said mass surveillance using a military-grade spyware abridges several fundamental rights and appears to represent an attempt to infiltrate, attack and destabilise independent institutions that act as critical pillars of our democratic set-up.

Explained | Pegasus and the laws on surveillance in India

They have sought a full disclosure from the government on whether it has authorised the snooping, which seems be an attempt to muzzle free speech and to chill dissent. The government, the petition said, had still not given a straight answer to whether the illegal hack was done with its blessings.

The journalists have contended that spying has caused serious dents on the rights to free speech and privacy. It has no legal basis. In fact, the legal regime for surveillance under Section 5(2) of the Telegraph Act seems to have been completely bypassed, and civilians have become targets.

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Printable version | Sep 18, 2021 6:12:18 AM |

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