Supreme Court to hear petitions demanding probe into Pegasus row on Thursday

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By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
August 1, 2021 11:33:48 am

A two-member Bench, headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana, will hear the petitions. Justice Surya Kant is the second judge on the Bench.

The Supreme Court will be hearing a clutch of petitions seeking a special investigation into the Pegasus scandal involving allegations that opposition politicians, journalists and others were targets of the Israeli spyware.

A two-member Bench, headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana, will hear the petitions. Justice Surya Kant is the second judge on the Bench.

Senior journalists N Ram and Sashi Kumar, CPM MP John Brittas and advocate ML Sharma have petitioned the top court to direct the government to disclose whether it has obtained a licence for the spyware or used it — directly or indirectly — to conduct surveillance of any kind. They also seek a probe by a sitting or former judge of the Supreme Court into the matter.


Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for senior journalists N Ram and Sashi Kumar, had said that the civil liberties of citizens, politicians belonging to Opposition parties, journalists and court staff were at stake as they were put under surveillance. He added that Pegasus snooping row was making waves in India and all over the world.

Ram and Sashi Kumar said in their plea that such “targeted surveillance” using a “military-grade spyware” is “grossly disproportionate invasion of the right to privacy”. It added, “The Pegasus hack is a direct attack on communicational, intellectual and informational privacy, and critically endangers the meaningful exercise of privacy in these contexts.”

While Sharma’s plea cited media reports on the controversy and said “the Pegasus scandal is a matter of grave concern and a serious attack on Indian democracy, judiciary and country’s security”, Brittas said the Pegasus spyware allegations give rise to two inferences — that it was done by the Indian Government or by a foreign agency.

“If it is done by the Indian Government, it is done in an unauthorized manner. The spending of sovereign amount for personal and political interests of the ruling party cannot be permitted. If snooping is done by some foreign agency, it is an act of external aggression which also needs to be dealt in a serious manner”, he contended.

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