Pegasus row: Supreme Court says probe panel can submit report by June 20
In the Pegasus snooping row, the Supreme Court on Friday gave time till June 20 to finish the probe to the court-appointed panel. The probe committee, headed by former top court judge RV Raveendran, informed the court that 29 mobile devices have been examined apart from interaction with several journalists and experts.
The technical committee is expected to submit its report to the Pegasus oversight panel by May-end, following which the final report will be submitted in the top court by June 20.
The Pegasus software is made by Israel-based NSO Group Technologies. The surveillance controversy broke out last year not just in India but other countries too. At that time, the software maker had said it sells its services to governments only.
In April, the panel asked all state Director Generals of Police (DGPs) to inform it whether they have procured the software from Israel’s NSO Group. “Did any state, state police, state intelligence or agency in the state/union territory of the government having access to Pegasus spyware use this on any citizen of India? If so, whether any permission/s or sanction/s for such use was obtained and if so from whom,” the secretary general of the Supreme Court asked all the DGPs quoting the questions of the technical committee.
Last year, amid a raging controversy, Bengal became the first state to order a probe into the snooping row. In March, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee claimed: “They came to our police (department) four or five years ago and offered to sell Pegasus for ₹25 crore. They went to many others. We didn’t buy it. It is okay as long as it is being used for security reasons and against anti-national elements. It is unfortunate that it is being used for political purposes, to snoop on officers and judges.”
Trinamool Congress’s national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee and the party’s election strategist Prashant Kishor were under surveillance along with other opposition leaders, some reports had claimed.
A three-member panel of experts was appointed by top court last year to probe the alleged use of the Israeli software for surveillance.