SC to hear plea seeking probe into Pegasus next week
The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear the petition filed by journalists N Ram and Sashi Kumar seeking a probe into the Pegasus snooping scandal. Chief Justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana said the plea may be taken up next week "depending on the workload." This comes after advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the petitioners, requested the CJI to list the matter urgently.
'Pegasus issue making waves in India; requires urgent hearing'
Appearing before a Supreme Court bench led by CJI Ramana, Sibal highlighted the urgency of the matter, saying the alleged surveillance has large-scale ramifications on the "civil liberty of citizens." "The civil liberties of citizens, politicians belonging to Opposition parties, journalists, court staff have been put under surveillance. This is an issue which is making waves in India and world...requires an urgent hearing."
First plea on Pegasus to be taken up by SC
The SC's decision to hear the petition makes it the first plea on Pegasus that the top court has agreed to hear. At least two other pleas remain pending before the SC on the Pegasus controversy. Meanwhile, a Parliamentary IT panel is facing setbacks on its inquiry into the scandal. Wednesday's meeting was notably put off as members from the BJP refused to participate.
What does the petition seek?
The petition sought directions for an independent inquiry headed by a sitting/retired SC judge to probe the allegations that Israeli spyware Pegasus was used to hack the phones of over 300 Indian citizens, including lawyers, politicians, journalists, and human rights activists. If the allegations of surveillance were true, it compromises the fundamental right to free speech and expression, the plea had argued.
Pegasus case violates Telegraph Act: Petition
The petition also submitted that legal surveillance laws under the Telegraph Act have been bypassed in the Pegasus case. It also called the Pegasus hacking an "act of terrorism" and said that it is a criminal offense punishable under various sections of the IT Act.
Pegasus causing impasse in Parliament amid Opposition's protests
Revelations made by international media organizations on Pegasus surveillance have whipped up a political storm in the country. It has also hampered the Monsoon Session of Parliament as Opposition parties have been staging protests, demanding a discussion on the Pegasus surveillance case. However, the Centre is neither conceding to their demand nor showing any inclination toward setting up a probe into the allegations.