State Can’t Get Free Pass by Saying National Security’: SC Orders Pegasus Probe
- SC appoints appoints technical committee to probe Pegasus matter.
- Comiitee to be headed by Retired Supreme Court Justice RV Ravindran.
- SC raised concerns over violations of right to privacy and chilling effect on free speech.
New Delhi: Citing numerous petitions filed requesting probes into the use of the Pegasus spyware on Indian citizens, the SC constituted a three-member committee on Wednesday to probe ‘the falsity’ in the matter. Allegations of snooping using the Pegasus software are about fundamental rights and “could have a chilling effect”, the Supreme Court said while hearing the case today.
The bench would be headed by retired judge, informed the Chief Justice of India NV Ramana passing an order for the pleas seeking independent court scrutinized investigation. Retired Supreme Court Justice RV Ravindran will head the committee and former IPS officer Alok Joshi along with Dr Sundeep Oberoi from Sub Committee in (International Organisation of Standardisation/ International Electro-Technical Commission/Joint Technical Committee) will assist him, the order informed.
Directing the committee to submit its report within two months, the apex court said, ” We issued notice to the government. We gave ample opportunity to the government to give details of all action taken by it. But despite repeated chances they gave limited affidavit that does not give clarity. If they had clarified they would have reduced the burden on us. But that does not mean state gets a free pass every time national security is raised.” It futher asserted that a “vague denial from the government” is inadequate. Considering this an infiltration by the foreign agency aided by the Indians, SC stressed that the ‘Right to Privacy Violation should be examined.”
In July, a list of 40 Indian journalists surfaced labelled as potential targets of surveillance by an unidentified agency using Pegasus software. Multiple petitions were called for an investigation into allegations that Israeli Pegasus spyware sold only to governments was being allegedly used by oppostion parties.