Top
Begin typing your search above and press return to search.
Top Stories

Pegasus Case: What Has Transpired Till Date

Aaratrika Bhaumik
26 Oct 2021 4:45 PM GMT
Pegasus Case: What Has Transpired Till Date
x

The Supreme Court is set to deliver its judgment tomorrow in a batch of petitions seeking court-monitored probe by a Special Investigation Team or a judicial probe into the reports of snooping of activists, journalists, politicians and constitutional authorities using the Pegasus spyware.On September 13, a bench comprising CJI NV Ramana, Justice Surya Kant and Justice Hima Kohli had...

Your free access to Live Law has expired
To read the article, get a premium account.
    Your Subscription Supports Independent Journalism
Subscription starts from
599+GST
(For 6 Months)
Premium account gives you:
  • Unlimited access to Live Law Archives, Weekly/Monthly Digest, Exclusive Notifications, Comments.
  • Reading experience of Ad Free Version, Petition Copies, Judgement/Order Copies.
Already a subscriber?

The Supreme Court is set to deliver its judgment tomorrow in a batch of petitions seeking court-monitored probe by a Special Investigation Team or a judicial probe into the reports of snooping of activists, journalists, politicians and constitutional authorities using the Pegasus spyware.

On September 13, a bench comprising CJI NV Ramana, Justice Surya Kant and Justice Hima Kohli had reserved interim order in the Pegasus case, after the Central Government expressed its unwillingness to file an affidavit stating whether it has used the Pegasus spyware or not. 

Court monitored technical committee to be set up 

On September 23, CJI NV Ramana had said that the Court was thinking of setting up a technical committee to look into the allegations of snooping of journalists, activists, politicians etc., using the Pegasus spyware developed by the Israeli company NSO. The CJI had further clarified that the order was getting delayed due to difficulties in identifying persons willing to be part of the technical committee. 

Centre has refused to file additional affidavit divulging whether it had used the spyware citing national security concerns 

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had mentioned to the Bench on September 13 that the matter was related to national security, and hence cannot be made a subject matter of a judicial debate or public discourse. He had further stated that the Government cannot reveal on affidavit whether it has used any particular software for security purposes, as it will alert terror groups. However, considering the seriousness of the allegations, the Centre had agreed to constitute a technical committee to examine the issue and had further stated that the constituted committee would submit a report to the Curt. 

However, the Bench had observed that it did not want any details pertaining to national security or defence but was only seeking clarification regarding allegations of snooping of civilians. 

"We are not interested in knowing matters related to security or defence. We are only concerned to know whether Govt has used any method other than admissible under law", Justice Surya Kant had said.

"We are again reiterating we are not interested in knowing matters related to security or defence. We are only concerned, as my brother said, we have journalists, activists etc before us…to know whether Govt has used any method other than admissible under law," CJI NV Ramana had stated. 

The Centre has till date filed only one affidavit which the Court has labelled as 'limited' in nature 

The Centre has to date filed only a "limited affidavit" denying the allegations of the petitioners and also expressing the willingness to form a committee to examine the issue to dispel "any wrong narrative by vested interests". The Court had described the affidavit of the Centre as a "limited affidavit" and had further suggested to SG Tushar Mehta to seek instructions and to introspect if the Centre wished to file a more detailed response.

The petitioners had raised an objection to the affidavit as being "non-committal" on whether the malware was used or not used by the government or its agencies or any private body, and had also expressed dissatisfaction with the route suggested by the government of appointing a committee of experts to inquire into the issue.

'We Don't Want A Government That Might Have Used Pegasus to Set Up a Committee Of Its Own": Kapil Sibal Argued Before Supreme Court

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, who appeared for Senior Journalist N Ram had flagged various issues in the short affidavit filed by the Centre. "We don't want a government that might have used Pegasus and its agencies might have used Pegasus to set up a committee of its own. If they say 'yes, Pegasus was used', we cannot have a committee. If they say Pegasus was not used, there is no need for the committee. So where is the question of the committee coming? I have these three basic objections to this affidavit and I want Your Lordships to give them enough time to file an affidavit on facts", the senior advocate had argued. 

'Serious Allegations If Reports Are True; Truth Has To Come Out': CJI NV Ramana had observed while issuing notice 

CJI Ramana in August had observed that the allegations are serious if the reports of Pegasus surveillance are true while issuing notice in a batch of petitions. "No doubt, the allegations are serious, if the reports are true", the Chief Justice of India NV Ramana had remarked during the hearing. 

The Pegasus controversy had 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. Several petitions were thereafter filed before the Top Court seeking independent probe into the matter. 

The petitions have been filed by several people including Advocate ML Sharma, journalists N Ram and Sashi Kumar, CPI(M) Rajya Sabha MP John Brittas, five pegasus targets (Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, SNM Abdi, Prem Shankar Jha, Rupesh Kumar Singh and Ipsa Shataksi), social activist Jagdeep Chhokkar, Narendra Kumar Mishra and the Editors Guild of India.

Also Read: 'Beating About The Bush Won't Solve The Issue' : Supreme Court To Centre In Pegasus Case | 10 Quote

Next Story
Share it