Sunday, April 2, 2023

Supreme Court hears plea challenging West Bengal Government notification on constituting probe into Pegasus spyware scandal

The bench led by Chief Justice NV Ramana and also comprising Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Surya Kant heard the matter.

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The Supreme Court heard the plea challenging notification issued by the West Bengal Government constituting an Enquiry Commission to investigate allegations pertaining to the Pegasus spyware scandal.

The bench led by Chief Justice NV Ramana and also comprising Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Surya Kant heard the matter.

Sr. Adv. Kapil Sibal who was representing the State of West Bengal submitted that, “the Central Government did not find it necessary to appoint a Commission of Inquiry in relation to the ‘Pegasus’ spyware scandal, it acted well within its legal authority to appoint a commission since the subject matter of the inquiry fell within the bounds of List II and III of the Seventh Schedule of the constitution.”

Sr. Adv. Harish Salve who was appearing for the NGO submitted that, “You (West Bengal Government) can’t have two parallel inquiries.”

The bench then adjourned the matter stating that, “At present the issue is connected to other issues, in all fairness we expect you can wait. We will hear it with the other matters sometime next week.”

The State of West Bengal had set up a two-member Commission of Inquiry, headed by retired judge Madan B Lokur, to probe into the alleged surveillance of Indian citizens using Israeli Pegasus spyware.

A petition was then filed by NGO Global Village Foundation Public Charitable Trust for disbanding the said commission.

The Mamata Banerjee-led government also questioned the motive behind the plea, claiming that the trustee and chairman of the NGO had close links with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its affiliate, Swadeshi Jagran Manch.

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“It cannot be disputed that the RSS and the Swadeshi Jagran Manch and the ruling party at the Centre, the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) are affiliates and have often vilified the state government for political gains,” stated the affidavit, contending that the petition is filed with the intent to obstruct any independent inquiry into the matter.

Imploring the court to dismiss the NGO’s petition citing its alleged association with the BJP and RSS, the West Bengal government underlined that “the higher echelons of the BJP have either publicly expressed their disapproval over the need for any independent inquiry on the ‘Pegasus’ issue or have been conspicuously silent on the subject matter despite massive public uproar.”–

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