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Pegasus spyware probe: SC gives technical committee more time to submit final report

The CJI pointed out that the committee had informed that 29 mobile devices are being examined and would need time till the end of this month to finalise it.

"Looking at the overall change in the outlook, the restrictions placed on the manner of conducting the sale of iron ore and fixation of the sale price need to be removed”, the bench said.

The Supreme Court on Friday gave more time to the technical committee appointed by it to finalise and submit its report with regard to the probe into allegations of Pegasus software’s use for unauthorised surveillance.

Chief Justice of India N V Ramana presiding a three-judge bench said the judge overseeing the inquiry, Justice R V Raveendran (retd), “has submitted an Interim Report requesting therein for extension of time to submit the final report, till 20.06.2022”.

The CJI pointed out that the committee had informed that 29 mobile devices are being examined and would need time till the end of this month to finalise it. The report would then be submitted to the overseeing judge who would need a few more days to add his comments.

“29 mobile devices are being examined. They have developed their own software. They have also issued notices to agencies, including government and journalists, and invited objections, too…It has prayed for time to submit its report. Now, it is under process. We will give them time,” the CJI said.

“Taking into consideration the said request made in the Interim Report, we deem it fit to extend the time, as sought,” the Bench, also comprising Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli ordered.

The court “directed” the technical committee “to expedite examination of the mobiles/devices received by it, preferably within a period of four weeks and submit a report to the…overseeing judge”.

It also urged the overseeing judge to send the report as early as possible.

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal appearing for the petitioners requested the court to make the report public. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for the Centre, however, said it was only an interim report and therefore should not be made public.

Hearing a clutch of petitions, the top court had on October 27, 2021, appointed the committee to look into allegations that the software developed by the Israeli firm NSO Group was used for unauthorised surveillance.

It also appointed Alok Joshi, former IPS officer (1976 batch) and Sundeep Oberoi, Chairman, Sub-Committee in (International Organisation of Standardisation/International Electro-Technical Commission/Joint Technical Committee) to assist Justice Raveendran.

The three technical members of the committee are Naveen Kumar Chaudhary, Professor (Cyber Security and Digital Forensics) and Dean, National Forensic Sciences University, Gandhinagar, Gujarat; Prabaharan P, Professor (School of Engineering), Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Amritapuri, Kerala; and Ashwin Anil Gumaste, Institute Chair Associate Professor (Computer Science and Engineering), Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, Maharashtra.

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The matter will now come up by the end of July.

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