Thursday, February 9, 2023

Pegasus snooping: Supreme Court expresses displeasure at parallel debate on social media by petitioners

The CJI also asked the petitioners not to give any misleading statement regarding the matter in the media and disapproved of the 'Parallel Debates' taken up by the petitioners on Pegasus issue.

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The Supreme Court raised objection to the ‘Parallel Debate’ by the petitioners in the media and  deferred the proceeding till August 16 in the Pegasus Spyware case.

The Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice N. V. Ramana, Justice Vineet Saran and Justice Surya Kant took up the matter pertaining to the snooping on mobile phones of journalists, political figures and constitutional authorities through Israeli spyware Pegasus.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was appearing for the Government of India, informed the court that he has received pleas from the petitioners and has also requested the bench to grant him some time to file a reply. The bench gave time till August 16 to the Central Government to file the reply.

Senior Advocate Chander Uday Singh, representing Journalist N Ram, requested the bench to issue notice in this case, but the bench was not inclined to issue notice without hearing the Central Government.

The CJI also asked the petitioners not to give any misleading statement regarding the matter in the media and disapproved of the ‘Parallel Debates’ taken up by the petitioners on Pegasus issue. “We feel that any of the people who are interested in matters and are saying things in the media – we hope you will answer within Court. You must have faith in system,” said Justice Ramana.

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The petitions are related to reports of alleged snooping by the government agencies on eminent citizens, politicians and scribes by using Israeli firm NSO’s spyware Pegasus.

An international media consortium has reported that over 300 verified Indian mobile phone numbers were on a list of potential targets for surveillance using Pegasus Spyware.

Opposition leaders, including Rahul Gandhi; two Union Ministers – Prahlad Singh Patel (Minister of State for Jal Shakti) and Ashwini Vaishnaw (Railways and IT Minister); businessman Anil Ambani; a former CBI chief and at least 40 journalists were on the list on the leaked database of NSO. It is, however, not established that all phones were hacked. The Government has denied all allegations in the matter. 

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