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Sunday, September 26, 2021

Panel won’t probe Pegasus row until court hears pending pleas: Bengal to SC

Appearing for the state government, senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi conveyed this to a bench headed by Chief Justice of India N V Ramana after the court told him that it will take up all matters together and expected any process to wait until then.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: August 26, 2021 5:41:25 am
Appearing for the NGO, senior advocate Harish Salve said “it’s a neat point of law”.

The West Bengal government Wednesday assured the Supreme Court that the commission of inquiry constituted by it to examine allegations of unauthorised surveillance using Pegasus software will not do anything until the court hears a petition challenging the setting up of the panel as well as other pending petitions seeking probe in the matter.

Appearing for the state government, senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi conveyed this to a bench headed by Chief Justice of India N V Ramana after the court told him that it will take up all matters together and expected any process to wait until then.

The bench, also comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and Surya Kant, issued notice on a plea by the NGO Global Village Foundation, which has sought quashing of the July 27 notification issued by West Bengal government, setting up the two-member panel of former Supreme Court judge, Justice Madan B Lokur, and former Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court, Justice Jyotirmay Bhattacharya.

Appearing for the NGO, senior advocate Harish Salve said “it’s a neat point of law”.

Intervening, the bench asked, “Why don’t we hear with other matters?” The court was referring to a batch of petitions already pending before it, seeking independent probe into the allegations.

“You can’t have two parallel inquiries. Please see nothing is done in the proceedings there while the court is hearing the matter,” Salve said.

As Singhvi sought to object, the CJI remarked, “If we are hearing other matters, we expect some restraint.” He added that since the present issue is connected to other issues, “in all fairness, we expect you can wait. We will hear it with the matter some time next week.”

Justice Surya Kant told Singhvi that the pending petitions are likely to have pan-India impact and the court will have advantage of his assistance in those matters also, if it hears the NGO plea along with those.

Singhvi replied that “between now and next week, nothing earth-shattering happening”. He urged the court not to make any adverse remarks and said, “Your lordship’s word will create a splash.”

The CJI told him, “All we were saying was we will list this with other matters. You’re forcing us to pass order.”

“Please say nothing, I’ll convey it,” Singhvi said.

“What we want is wait, show constraint,” the court said, adding that it will hear the matters and pass a comprehensive order.

The NGO has challenged the notification on grounds of lack of jurisdiction and has questioned setting up of the commission when the apex court is already seized of the matter.

The plea has contended that “considering the seriousness of the issue and the implications on the citizenry of the country, as well as its cross-border implications, the Pegasus controversy warrants an in-depth investigation. This cannot be carried out in a truncated and unconstitutional manner, as is sought to be done by the West Bengal government”.

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