17 Dec 2021 6:46 AM GMT
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...
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.
When the matter was taken, Senior Advocate Harish Salve, appearing for the petitioner NGO "Global Village Foundation Charitable Trust", submitted that they are challenging the proceedings of the West Bengal commission.
CJI Ramana then asked Senior Advocate Dr Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who represented the State of West Bengal, as to what happened to the oral undertaking given by him that the State Government won't proceed with the matter.
"Mr Singhvi, what is this? Last time you gave the undertaking. We wanted to record you said don't record. Again you started the inquiry?", CJI asked Singhvi.
Singhvi replied that the State Government cannot control the Commission.
"I said I don't control the Commission and I'll convey the constraint. I did. The commission started. Please call their counsel and pass orders. As a State, I can't restrain the Commission", Singhvi submitted.
"We understand the state's predicament. Issue notice to all parties. We stay proceedings", the CJI said.
The bench, also comprising Justice Surya Kant and Justice Hima Kohli, issued notice to the Commission and stayed its proceedings. The bench granted petitioner permission to implead the Secretary of the Commission in the case.
On Thursday, an urgent listing of the matter was sought by the petitioner NGO "Global Village Foundation Charitable Trust" saying that the West Bengal Commission was going ahead with the probe even when the Supreme Court has constituted an independent expert committee to examine the Pegasus allegations.
The counsel mentioning the matter had pointed out that West Bengal had given an undertaking that the Committee will not function parallel with the Commission constituted by the Supreme Court. The Counsel urged the court to take up the matter on Friday or immediately after the winter break.
The Supreme Court had in August turned down the Trust's plea to stay the notification issued by West Bengal Government constituting an Enquiry Commission headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice Madan B Lokur to investigate the allegations pertaining to the Pegasus spyware scandal.
However, the bench took an oral undertaking from Senior Advocate Dr Abhishek Manu Singhvi on behalf of the State of West Bengal that the Commission will not function while the matter was under the Court's consideration.
On October 27, the 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.
Case Title: Global Village Foundation Charitable Trust vs Union of India & Ors
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