Updated: August 2, 2021 3:18:44 am
The Supreme Court will take up on August 5, petitions seeking an independent probe into allegations of surveillance using the Pegasus software made by Israeli cybersecurity firm NSO Group.
The petitions have been listed before a bench of Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justice Surya Kant.
There are three petitions before the court in the matter, one filed by senior journalists N Ram and Shashi Kumar, another by advocate M L Sharma and a third one by CPI(M) Rajya Sabha MP John Brittas.
Ram and Kumar have sought a probe by a sitting or former judge of the SC into the allegations.
The duo said in their plea that such “targeted surveillance” using a “military-grade spyware” is a “grossly disproportionate invasion of the right to privacy”.
The petition said: “the Pegasus hack is a direct attack on communicational, intellectual and informational privacy, and critically endangers the meaningful exercise of privacy in these contexts”.
The plea contended that surveillance/interception is justified only in cases of public emergency or in the interest of public safety, and the existence of such conditions must be inferred reasonably and cannot be determined solely on the assessment of the government. It added that the government had not taken any steps to order an investigation into the charges.
The petition also urged the court to direct the government to disclose whether any of its agencies had obtained a license for the ‘spyware’ and/or employed it directly or indirectly for surveillance.
Sharma’s plea cited media reports on the controversy and said “the Pegasus scandal is a matter of grave concern and a serious attack upon Indian democracy, judiciary and country’s security”.
The petition by Brittas has sought a probe into the revelations in the media on the alleged spying and said the spyware allegations give two inferences – that it was done by the Indian government or by a foreign agency.
“If it is done by the Indian Government it is done in an unauthorized manner. The spending of sovereign amount for personal and political interests of the ruling party cannot be permitted. If snooping is done by some foreign agency, it is an act of external aggression which also needs to be dealt in a serious manner,” he contended.
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