Pegasus panel submits interim report in SC ahead of February 25 hearing | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Pegasus panel submits interim report in SC ahead of February 25 hearing

ByAbraham Thomas
Feb 22, 2022 07:47 PM IST

Petitions before the Supreme Court highlighted breach of right to privacy, with allegations that the Israeli spyware was a military software sold only to governments and government agencies

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court-appointed technical committee examining the Pegasus snooping case has sought more time to submit its final report on the findings on the alleged misuse of Israeli spyware Pegasus for surveillance on Indian citizens.

Supreme Court of India. (ANI FILE PHOTO)
Supreme Court of India. (ANI FILE PHOTO)

The panel, headed by retired Supreme Court judge Justice RV Raveendran, in its interim report submitted to the apex court informed about the progress of inquiry into the alleged snooping of phones of politicians, activists, journalists and lawyers.

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The top court, examining a clutch of petitions filed by activists and persons whose phones were affected by the spyware, formed the Justice Raveendran Committee in October last year and granted them eight weeks’ time to file a report.

The other members of the court-appointed committee include Naveen Kumar Chaudhary, professor of Cyber Security and Digital Forensics and dean of National Forensic Sciences University in Gujarat’s Gandhinagar; Prabaharan P, professor (School of Engineering, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Kerala) and Ashwin Anil Gumaste, institute chair and associate professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay.

The court further stated that the technical committee will be assisted by former IPS officer Alok Joshi and Sundeep Oberoi, chairman of the sub-committee in International Organization of Standardization/ International Electro-Technical Commission/Joint Technical Committee, on matters involving technical and investigational aspects.

The Supreme Court earlier refused to allow the Centre to constitute the probe panel and agreed to form a committee hand-picked by it to examine the allegations, and if found to be true, at whose behest was the surveillance conducted.

Petitions before the court highlighted the breach of right to privacy, alleging that the highly-sophisticated Pegasus spyware was a military software sold only to governments and government agencies.

“Privacy is not the singular concern of journalists or social activists. Every citizen of India ought to be protected against violations of privacy. It is this expectation which enables us to exercise our choices, liberties, and freedom,” the court order said.

Stating that in a democratic country governed by the rule of law, indiscriminate spying on individuals cannot be allowed except with sufficient statutory safeguards, by following the procedure established by law, the CJI-led bench observed, adding that by constituting the panel, it does not wish to enter the political thicket but safeguard citizen’s rights.

“We make it clear that our effort is to uphold the constitutional aspirations and rule of law, without allowing ourselves to be consumed in the political rhetoric. This court has always been conscious of not entering the political thicket. However, at the same time, it has never cowered from protecting all from the abuses of fundamental rights,” the Supreme Court said in its October 27, 2021 order.

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