Supreme Court to hear pleas for probe into Pegasus row on August 5

  • The first petition has been filed by advocate ML Sharma, second by senior journalists N Ram and Sashi Kumar, and the third by Rajya Sabha MP John Brittas.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi with other leaders at a protest over the Pegasus snooping row in New Delhi on July 23. (PTI Photo/Kamal Kishore)(PTI)
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi with other leaders at a protest over the Pegasus snooping row in New Delhi on July 23. (PTI Photo/Kamal Kishore)(PTI)
Published on Aug 01, 2021 11:53 PM IST
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By HT Correspondent, New Delhi

The Supreme Court will hear on August 5 a clutch of petitions that demand a court-monitored investigation into the alleged surveillance of Indian citizens using Israeli Pegasus spyware and to identify the entities responsible for this.

A bench, headed by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, will take up three public interest litigations on Thursday.

The first petition has been filed by advocate ML Sharma, second by senior journalists N Ram and Sashi Kumar, and the third by Rajya Sabha MP John Brittas.

All these petitions have asked for an independent probe into the Pegasus scandal, preferably by a special investigation team under the supervision of a retired Supreme Court judge.

On July 30, senior advocate Kapil Sibal mentioned the PIL by the two journalists before the CJI, saying that the matter had huge ramifications on civil liberties as it involved surveillance of Opposition leaders, journalists and activists. CJI Ramana had agreed to list the matter in the coming week.

The journalists have demanded an inquiry by a retired or sitting judge of the apex court to ascertain the extent of surveillance on Indian citizens and identify the entities responsible for it.

In their plea, the two journalists said the government has not categorically denied obtaining Pegasus licences to conduct surveillance in the response given in Parliament by minister of electronics and information technology Ashwini Vaishnaw, and sought an exact response from the Centre in this regard. The plea also noted that the Centre has taken no steps to ensure a credible and independent investigation.

Advocate Sharma demanded an SIT investigation, calling the incident a “serious attack” on Indian democracy, the judiciary and on the security of the country.

Sharma earlier approached the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to register a first information report into the allegations but was turned down, the petition said. His petition has named Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a respondent along with CBI.

Brittas, a Communist Party of India (Marxist) MP, has also asked for a court-monitored probe by SIT. This petition has referred to the statements by minister Vaishnaw in Parliament, complaining that the government has neither denied nor admitted to buying and using the spyware.

“It is only an evasive statement from the government. The government has unequivocally accepted the statement of the company, NSO, which owns the alleged spyware technology and blindly accepted their version without any investigation,” the plea added.

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Sunday, October 24, 2021