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Monday, September 27, 2021

Pegasus row: SC issues notice to Centre, West Bengal govt on plea against setting up of Inquiry Commission

Advocate Saurabh Mishra, appearing for the petitioner, contended that they had challenged the commission on grounds of jurisdiction.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: August 18, 2021 12:40:42 pm
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said she had plastered her camera to prevent phone tapping. She ordered a Inquiry Commission into the Pegasus row in July. (Twitter: Trinamool Congress)

The Supreme Court Wednesday issued notice to the Centre and West Bengal government over a plea challenging the setting up of a two-member Commission of Inquiry by the Mamata Banerjee government to probe into the Pegasus snooping allegations.

A Bench headed by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana sought responses from the Centre and state, and listed the matter for August 25. It will be heard alongside other petitions regarding the Pegasus row.

Advocate Saurabh Mishra, appearing for the petitioner, contended that they had challenged the commission on grounds of jurisdiction. He stated that the proceedings should not go on as the issue is being examined at a pan-India level. The court, however, refused to stay the proceedings, with Justice Surya Kant stating that the committee is only taking “preliminary steps”.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta called the committee “unconstitutional.”

On July 26, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had announced a commission of inquiry into the alleged surveillance of phones using the Pegasus spyware developed by the Israeli cyber-intelligence company NSO Group. The committee included retired Supreme Court judge Justice Madan B Lokur, former Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court, and Justice (retd) Jyotirmay Bhattacharya.

Earlier on Tuesday, the apex court said it will discuss and decide the future course of action, after the government reiterated that the matter had national security implications due to which it did not want to put the details in a public affidavit. The Centre has said it would reveal all aspects to a committee of independent experts, who can then submit its report to the Court.

— with inputs from Bar and Bench, PTI

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