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Pegasus Case : West Bengal Governor Writes To CM Seeking Records Of Justice Lokur Commission

Aaratrika Bhaumik
20 Dec 2021 9:32 AM GMT
Pegasus Case : West Bengal Governor Writes To CM Seeking Records Of Justice Lokur Commission
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The Governor of West Bengal Jagdeep Dhankhar on Monday invoked Article 167 of the Constitution to seek all records pertaining to the proceedings of the Inquiry Commission headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice Madan B. Lokur and former Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court Justice Jyotirmay Bhattacharya constituted by the West Bengal government to investigate into the...

The Governor of West Bengal Jagdeep Dhankhar on Monday invoked Article 167 of the Constitution to seek all records pertaining to the proceedings of the Inquiry Commission headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice Madan B. Lokur and former Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court Justice Jyotirmay Bhattacharya constituted by the West Bengal government to investigate into the allegations pertaining to the Pegasus spyware scandal. 

Pursuant to the powers conferred under Section 3 of the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952 the aforementioned Inquiry Commission was constituted by the West Bengal government vide notification dated July 26, 2021. In the notification released by the West Bengal government, it was stated that the Governor had exercised his opinion to direct that all provisions of sub-sections (2) to (5) of section 5 of the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952 should be made applicable to the Commission. 

However, in a letter addressed to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday, the Governor stated that no communication whatsoever had taken place in this regard prior to the promulgation of the notification. 

"It is significant that there has been no communication whatsoever on this count from your side to this office prior to the promulgation of Notification dated 26.07.2021. In such a situation, there could obviously be no formation of any opinion at my end and there has been none as a matter of fact", the letter states. 

The letter further avers,

"It emanates from the penultimate and last para of Notification dated 26.07.2021 that provisions of sub-sections (2) to (5) of Sections 5 and Sections 5A of the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952 have been made applicable to the proceedings of 'Pegasus' Inquiry Commission premised on the 'opinion of the Governor'. 

The Governor further stated that such a step has become 'necessary' as the Chief Secretary had unfortunately failed to provide such information. According to the letter, on December 15, 2021, the Chief Secretary had been called upon to 'make available the Notificatification and all connected proceedings in this behalf resulting in the issuance of the Notification'.

Furthermore, the letter further averred that earlier on December 6, 2021 the Chief Secretary had been called upon to make available such records latest by December 10, 2021 however there had not been any acknowledgment, much less any compliance in this regard. 

"In the aforesaid situation please take steps to forward at the earliest the entire record leading to the issuance of Notification dated 26.7.2021 precisely and pointedly also adverting on all facets of formation of opinion by the Governor", the letter further directed. 

In a related development, the Supreme Court on Friday passed an interim order to stay the enquiry proceedings by the Judicial Enquiry Commission led by former Supreme Court judge Justice Madan B Lokur, which has been constituted by the State of West Bengal, to inquire into the allegations of snooping using the Pegasus spyware. A bench led by the Chief Justice of India NV Ramana expressed its unhappiness over the Commission conducting the proceedings when the Supreme Court has constituted an independent committee to probe the matter.

On October 27, the Supreme Court had constituted an independent committee headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice RV Raveendran to probe into the Pegasus allegations. The bench turned down the plea of national security raised by the Union Government and observed that the petitioners' had made out a prima facie case.

The Pegasus controversy erupted on July 18 after The Wire and several other international publications published reports about the mobile numbers which were potential targets of the spyware service given by NSO company to various governments, including India. 40 Indian journalists, political leaders like Rahul Gandhi, election strategist Prashant Kishore, former ECI member Ashok Lavassa etc are reported to be in the list of targets, as per The Wire.



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