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Pegasus Snoopgate: Solicitor General Seeks Time For Instructions, Supreme Court Adjourns Hearing Of Pleas Seeking SIT Probe Till Aug 16

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
10 Aug 2021 5:52 AM GMT
Pegasus Snoopgate: Solicitor General Seeks Time For Instructions, Supreme Court Adjourns Hearing Of Pleas Seeking SIT Probe Till Aug 16
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The Supreme Court today granted time till Monday to Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to seek instructions from the Government on the nine petitions seeking probe into the Pegasus snooping controversy, on a request made by him While doing so, a bench comprising Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, Justice Vineet Saran and Justice Surya Kant asked the Petitioners to refrain from indulging...

The Supreme Court today granted time till Monday to Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to seek instructions from the Government on the nine petitions seeking probe into the Pegasus snooping controversy, on a request made by him

While doing so, a bench comprising Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, Justice Vineet Saran and Justice Surya Kant asked the Petitioners to refrain from indulging in "parallel debates" outside the Court, on social media platforms.

"This is the message of me and my two brothers. All petitioners are expected to answer the queries of the court through the debate in the court. If they want to say something through Twitter, social media etc, it is for them.
You all have come to the court and you speak through the counsels. We don't want parallel debates. You have faith in the system. There must be discipline.
If they want to bring anything to the notice of the court, you bring through affidavit. We expect they answer our queries through a proper debate in court hall and not outside," CJI Ramana said.

"I agree that when a case is going on here there should not be discussed outside," Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for journalists N Ram and Sashi Kumar, said.

Today at the outset, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed the Bench that he has received copies from all petitioners however, he needs some time to seek instructions from the Government.

"I have received copies of the petitions. I would need some time to go through the matters. I need instructions from Govt. Kindly be on Friday, subject to your lordships' convenience," the SG submitted.

While allowing the request, the Bench posted the matter for hearing on Monday However, it declined Senior Advocate CU Singh's request to issue notice immediately.

"Let notice be issued," Singh urged.

"We will see on Monday," the CJI responded.

On the last date, the CJI had observed that no doubt, the allegations are serious, if the reports are true. "Truth has to come out, that's a different story. We don't know whose names are there", he added.

However, the CJI raised two queries repeatedly : 1. Why the individually aggrieved petitioners have not filed FIRs? 2. Why the petitions are filed now though Pegasus issue surfaced in 2019?.

Yesterday, the Defence Ministry told the Rajya Sabha that it has 'no transaction' with Israeli firm NSO Group Technologies which has developed the Pegasus spyware which was allegedly used to illegally spy on journalists, constitutional authorities and many others.

The petitions were filed by 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.

The petitioners highlighted that the Government of India is yet to make a categorical denial of using the Pegasus spyware. The five petitioners who are reported to be in the target list state that they have strong reasons to believe that they have been subjected to a "deeply intrusive surveillance and hacking by the Government of India or some other third parties".

The petitioners argue that the Pegasus reports, if true, indicate that unauthorized surveillance was done on activists, journalists, politicians and even judiciary, and hence the matter is one striking at the very root of the Indian democracy and Constitutional guarantees.

"The Pegasus hack is a direct attack on communicational, intellectual and informational privacy, and critically endangers the meaningful exercise of privacy in these contexts. The right to privacy extends to use and control over one's mobile phone/electronic device and any interception by means of hacking/tapping is an infraction of Article 21. Further, the use of the Pegasus spyware to conduct surveillance represents a grossly disproportionate invasion of the right to privacy".

"The specific targeting of scores of journalists is an attack on the freedom of the press, and seriously abridges the right to know, which is an essential component of the right to free speech and expression, state another plea.

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.

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

The Wire published a startling report last week stating that an old mobile number associated with Justice Arun Mishra, numbers of two Supreme Court officials and three advocates were also included in the list of Pegasus targets.


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