Pegasus snooping row | Separate probe by Bengal can wait, observes Supreme Court

Court says it may take up Pegasus cases next week, pass comprehensive order.

Updated - August 25, 2021 11:06 pm IST

Published - August 25, 2021 05:45 pm IST - NEW DELHI

A view of the Supreme Court

A view of the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Wednesday urged the West Bengal government to wait and not go ahead with a separate judicial inquiry into the Pegasus snooping allegations when the apex court is already seized of the issue.

A Bench of Chief Justice of India (CJI) N.V. Ramana and Justice Surya Kant did not pass a formal order staying the work of the government-appointed commission of inquiry after senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi gave an oral assurance to convey the apex court’s message of “restraint” to the government.

The commission of inquiry comprises retired Supreme Court judge Justice Madan B. Lokur and retired Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court, Justice Jyotirmay Bhattacharya.

 

Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for the petitioner, an NGO called ‘Global Village Foundation’, submitted that there cannot be a parallel inquiry when the apex court was hearing the issue. The petition has challenged the government notification, which appointed the commission in July. It said the commission has no jurisdiction to embark on such an inquiry. Mr. Salve submitted that a public notice was issued by the commission of inquiry and proceedings were taking place on a day-to-day basis.

The Bench said it may take up the Pegasus cases next week and pass a comprehensive order. It tagged the petition with the Pegasus cases pending before it.

‘Pan-India impact’

“We expect some restraint... We expect you to wait,” Chief Justice Ramana addressed Mr. Singhvi.

Justice Kant said any decision in the Pegasus issue would likely have a pan-India impact.

The Supreme Court issued a pre-admission notice to the Centre on August 17 on petitions seeking an independent enquiry into the charges that the government used the Israeli-based spyware to snoop on journalists, activists, dissenters, parliamentarians, Ministers and other citizens.

After issuing the notice, a Bench of CJI Ramana, Justices Kant and Aniruddha Bose said it would consider the further course of action, including the formation of a committee, to inquire into the allegations, in due time.

The notice was issued after the government, represented by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, stood firm by its two-page affidavit, denying “all and any” allegations. Mr. Mehta had said any revelation about any software allegedly used by government to counter terrorism would compromise national security.

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