Pegasus row National

Pegasus row | Supreme Court to hear pleas for independent probe

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear on September 13 a batch of pleas seeking an independent probe into the alleged snooping on certain people in India involving Pegasus, the Israeli spyware.

A three-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana had on September 7 granted more time to the Centre to decide on filing a further response on the petitions after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that due to some difficulties, he could not meet the officials concerned to take a decision on the filing of a second affidavit.

The Centre had earlier filed a limited affidavit in the apex court saying the pleas seeking an independent probe into the Pegasus snooping allegations are based on “conjectures and surmises or on other unsubstantiated media reports or incomplete or uncorroborated material”.

On August 17, the top court had issued notice to the Centre on the pleas, making it clear that it did not want the government to disclose anything which compromised national security.

In its short affidavit filed in the court earlier, the Centre had said the position on the issue had already been clarified in Parliament by Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw.

With a view of dispelling any wrong narrative spread by certain vested interests and examining the issues raised, the government will constitute a committee of experts, it had said.

The top court, while issuing notice on the pleas, had said that it did not want the government to disclose anything related to national security, and had asked the Centre what the “problem” was if the competent authority filed an affidavit before it on the issue.

“Our considered response is what we have respectfully stated in our last affidavit. Kindly examine the issue from our point of view as our affidavit is sufficient,” the law officer had told the Bench, adding, “The Government of India is before the highest court of the country.” The law officer had said that if the government of any country divulged information on which software was used and which was not used, then those involved in terrorist activities may take pre-emptive measures.

The pleas are related to reports of alleged snooping by government agencies on eminent citizens, politicians and scribes by using the Israeli firm NSO’s spyware Pegasus.

Worldview with Suhasini Haidar | The impact of Pegasus revelations

An international media consortium has reported that over 300 verified Indian mobile phone numbers were on the list of potential targets for surveillance using the Pegasus spyware.

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Printable version | Dec 4, 2021 12:11:00 AM |

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