SC to set up committee to probe snooping of Indian citizens using Israeli spyware Pegasus

New Delhi: The Supreme Court of India will set up a committee, and appoint all the members, to inquire into the Pegasus snooping row, Chief Justice NV Ramana said Thursday morning, adding that interim orders would likely be issued next week.

The Chief Justice was hearing another matter when he told one of the lawyers – who also represents one of the Pegasus petitioners – of this development.

“We wanted to pass an order on the matter before this week… but some members we thought of considering for the (expert) committee… for personal reasons they declined to be part of this committee. Hence the delay,” he said.

“We will try to pass an order on Pegasus next week,” he added.

The Chief Justice’s remarks are significant given that the government, in the last hearing on September 13, offered to set up a committee to inquire into allegations of violation of privacy.

The government had said it would form the committee and that it would report to the Supreme Court.

This was after strong remarks over the refusal to file a detailed affidavit, citing “national security”.

“Filing (an affidavit) and making it (the question of whether the Indian government uses Pegasus) public discourse is not possible (as it) will affect national security… We cannot let terrorists know what software is used…” Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had initially told the court.

An unimpressed and irked Chief Justice reminded Mr Mehta “… we don’t want to know about national security. The issue is… we have citizens saying their phones were tapped.”

“Last time also… we clarified (won’t) intervene in national security…” Justice Surya Kant, also on the bench, said then, “… claims of individual phones hacked. Which agency has powers… is it authorised?”

The court then pointed out that even if a committee were appointed, its report would normally – like the affidavit the government declined to file – also be a matter of public record.


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