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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Supreme Court gives government more time to decide on Pegasus affidavit

A three-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana adjourned the hearing after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta sought a few more days to “find out” if the government intended to file any additional affidavit in the matter.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: September 8, 2021 7:25:07 am
As soon as the matter was taken up Tuesday, Mehta told the Bench, also comprising Justices Surya Kant and A S Bopanna, that “there is some difficulty regarding that affidavit... Please consider accommodating me till the day after”.

The Supreme Court Tuesday deferred to September 13 hearing on petitions seeking an independent probe into charges of unauthorised surveillance using the Pegasus software.

A three-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana adjourned the hearing after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta sought a few more days to “find out” if the government intended to file any additional affidavit in the matter.

As soon as the matter was taken up Tuesday, Mehta told the Bench, also comprising Justices Surya Kant and A S Bopanna, that “there is some difficulty regarding that affidavit… Please consider accommodating me till the day after”.

At the last hearing, on August 17, the government had filed a brief affidavit “unequivocally” denying all allegations made by the petitioners and stating that “with a view to dispel any wrong narrative spread by certain vested interests and with an object of examining the issues raised”, it would set up “a Committee of Experts in the field which will go into all aspects of the issue”.

The government had also told the Court that day that the matter had national security implications due to which it did not want to put the details in a public affidavit but would reveal all aspects to the committee, of independent experts, which could then submit its report to the Court.

The Bench had however issued a pre-admission notice to the Centre, and sought to know if the government wanted to file any further affidavit.

As the SG sought more time on Tuesday, the Bench pointed out, “You already filed an affidavit.”

Mehta responded, “Yes, but on (the) last occasion, Your Lordships had inquired if we would like to file (a) further affidavit. For some reason, some officers weren’t there… and it could not be found out.”

The SG urged the Court to adjourn the matter till Thursday or Monday next, and finally both the Bench and petitioners agreed on Monday next (September 13).

The Court is hearing a clutch of petitions filed following media reports that phones of some journalists, human rights activists etc were accessed unauthorisedly using the Pegasus software developed by the Israeli form NSO Group.

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