31 July 2021 5:03 AM GMT
The Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR) has expressed 'deep concern' at the revelation that the Pegasus software owned by Israel's NSO Group, which was allegedly used to hack into the phones of Indian citizens, apparently at the behest of the Union government.In a press release issued today, CJAR has said thus: "Such large-scale intrusive surveillance into...
The Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR) has expressed 'deep concern' at the revelation that the Pegasus software owned by Israel's NSO Group, which was allegedly used to hack into the phones of Indian citizens, apparently at the behest of the Union government.
In a press release issued today, CJAR has said thus:
"Such large-scale intrusive surveillance into the personal phones of political leaders, journalists, activists is a flagrant violation of the right to privacy as upheld by the Hon'ble Supreme Court and an affront on the civil liberties of citizens."
CJAR has emphasized that allegations that phone of a sitting judge of the Supreme Court and the family members of the woman staffer of the Supreme Court who had accused former Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi of sexual harassment were targets of hacking by the NSO group are of 'grave seriousness'.
"These allegations, made by respected media organizations on the basis of worldwide collaborative investigative efforts, need to be taken with utmost seriousness, not only for the patent illegality of such actions, but the potential threat to the independence of the judiciary that they represent," the press release states.
CJAR has also averred that Phone hacking via Pegasus could have been an attempt to collect personal information of judges without their knowledge, or like with the Bhima Koregaon activists and lawyers, an attempt at implanting compromising information on the phones of the judges, either of which might have been attempted with a view to blackmail such judges.
"This would per se be an attack on the independence of the judiciary that requires a response from the highest court in order to get to the truth of the matter and address the public's concerns about such illegal attempts to compromise its independence," stressed CJAR in its press release.
The press release specifically raises the issue of alleged snooping on the Supreme Court staffer who had raised allegations of sexual harassment against then CJI Ranjan Gogoi in April 2019.
It has been further stated that a detailed and independent probe is required to investigate why a software reportedly made available to only "vetted governments" for national security issues was used against this woman (staffer of Ex CJI Ranjan Gogoi).
Importantly, a probe has been demanded to look into the possibility of improper collusion between the executive and a judge, where the executive has attempted to intimidate and browbeat the victims of Justice Gogoi's abuse of power.
"The victimisation of the woman by the police, the many questionably judicial orders passed by benches headed by Justice Gogoi favourable to the Union Government, and Justice Gogoi's nomination to the Rajya Sabha soon after his retirement raises serious questions about such collusion," adds the press release by CJAR.
According to a report of The Wire, the woman staffer who raised the sexual harassment allegations against the former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and some of her family members were listed as the potential targets of Pegasus snooping.
40 Indian journalists, political leaders like Rahul Gandhi, election strategist Prashant Kishore etc are reported to be in the list of targets, as per The Wire.
Meanwhile, several petitions have been filed before the Supreme Court seeking an independent probe in the matter. Read here:
Pegasus Snooping : Rajya Sabha MP John Brittas Moves Supreme Court For SIT Probe; Says Centre Evasive
PIL Filed In Supreme Court Seeking Court-Monitored SIT Probe Into Pegasus Snooping Allegations
"Targeted Surveillance Using Military Grade Spyware": Journalists N Ram And Sashi kumar Move Supreme Court Seeking Probe In To Pegasus Snooping Row
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has constituted an Inquiry Commission headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice Madan B. Lokur and former Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court Justice Jyotirmay Bhattacharya to investigate into the alleged scandal.
The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to list next week a PIL filed by veteran journalists N Ram and Sashi Kumar seeking a probe by a retired or a sitting Supreme Court judge into the Pegasus snooping row.
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