"No Privacy Left For Anyone": Top Court Hears Chhattisgarh Phone Tap Case

'No Privacy Left For Anyone': Top Court Hears Chhattisgarh Phone Tap Case
New Delhi:

An irked Supreme Court today questioned what was happening in the country while hearing a phone tapping case from Chhattisgarh against the backdrop of the WhatsApp snooping scandal, over which the Congress and the BJP have been sparring.

"There is no privacy left for anyone. Something is happening every day. What's happening in this country," Justice Arun Mishra headed bench said during the hearing of the case, in which a police officer, Mukesh Gupta, has accused the state government of tapping his and his family's phones.

Last week, the court had stopped the Congress-led Chhattisgarh government from intercepting the telephones of Mukesh Gupta and his family and granted him protection from arrest. The officer has alleged that the government was harassing him as he reopened a case where the accused were close to those in power.

The officer has claimed that along with his phone, the government was also tapping the phones of his wife, their two young daughters and other family members.

The hearing coincides with the huge political row over Facebook's claim that the phones of more than 120 Indian journalists, activists, lawyers and government officials were hacked with the spyware of an Israeli cybersecurity company.

Several activists and three opposition leaders --  Congress's Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Nationalist Congress Party's Praful Patel - have alleged that their phones were tapped.

Facebook, which claimed the snooping took place in April ahead of the national elections, has sued NSO, the Israeli firm that made the software Pegasus. The social media giant claimed that Pegasus was used to target users not just in India, but across 20 nations.

Today, the Supreme Court advised both parties - the state and the police officer -- not to politicise the case. The judges also deleted the name Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel as one of the respondents in the petition.

The court also put a freeze on the legal proceedings against a lawyer who had represented the police officer. The state government had filed a First Information Report against advocate Ravi Sharma who represented the police officer in Supreme Court.

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