SC issues notice to Centre on PILs seeking probe into Pegasus row

The Centre refused to disclose whether it used Pegasus or not.
Surveillance
Pegasus surveillance

New Delhi, Aug 17 : The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued a notice to the Centre on the petitions seeking probe into alleged use of Pegasus to snoop on civilians. The top court told the Centre it expected a comprehensive reply in the matter; however the government filed a 2-page limited affidavit.

A bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana has scheduled the matter for further hearing after 10 days. “Notice. List after 10 days. Meanwhile, we will think of further course of action… issue notice to the government,” said the Chief Justice.

The bench also comprising Justices Surya Kant and Aniruddha Bose observed that the Centre’s 2-page affidavit was not enough to satisfy the issues raised by various petitioners.

“We expected a comprehensive reply, but you filed a limited affidavit”, noted the Chief Justice, listing the matter for further hearing after 10 days.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, submitted that the government is ready to place all facts before a technical committee comprising neutral and independent experts.

He added, “The expert committee can examine the facts and submit a report in the top court. But we cannot divulge details concerning the security of the country.”

The Centre refused to disclose whether it used Pegasus or not.

Justice Bose queried Mehta, “Are you sure you don’t want to say anything more?”

Mehta replied that he cannot give information in public domain, which software the government used or not, as later those who are being lawfully intercepted may use it to their advantage.

During the hearing, the bench observed that it does not want the Centre to disclose anything that may compromise with the national security or defence of the country.

“But the competent authority may file an affidavit, saying what they can… we can issue notices and ask for an affidavit,” noted the bench.

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