'No Parallel Social Media Debates': Supreme Court To Pegasus Petitioners

In last week's hearing the Supreme Court, which is hearing a clutch of petitions asking for a probe into the Pegasus scandal, said the allegations were "serious if newspaper reports are correct"

The Supreme Court has postponed hearing of the Pegasus petitions till next week (Representational)

Highlights

  • The top court said the petitioners should "have faith in the system".
  • It reminded "when the matter is in court, it should be deliberated here".
  • The court has postponed further hearing in the matter to Monday.
New Delhi:

The Supreme Court on Tuesday told petitioners seeking a probe into the Pegasus scandal that they should "have faith in the system" and not take part in "parallel debates on social media".

The court also postponed further hearing to Monday, after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the government, sought more time to read and respond to the petitions.

Chief Justice NV Ramana, who is leading the bench that is hearing these petitions, reminded the petitioners and their lawyers that "when the matter is in court, it should be deliberated here".

"Why have parallel debates? Whatever you are saying in the media... whatever queries are to be answered... once you come to this court, we expect the debate is taking place (here) and we expect they (the government) will answer the questions we put to them," the Chief Justice said.

"There must be some discipline. If the petitioners want to say anything, or bring anything to the notice of the court, they can file an additional affidavit..." he added.

The court's comments regarding "parallel debates" comes after it raised questions over an affidavit filed by senior journalist N Ram, one of the petitioners, in last week's hearing.

The Pegasus scandal involves allegations that an Indian client of the Israeli spyware used it to conduct illegal surveillance on opposition leaders, journalists and others. Congress MP Rahul Gandhi, poll strategist Prashant Kishor, businessman Anil Ambani and others are on the alleged list of targets.

A furious opposition has cornered the government in Parliament on this issue, demanding a detailed discussion in the presence of Prime Minister Modi, and investigation into the allegations.

The government has insisted that no illegal surveillance has been conducted and has, so far, refused to order a probe; the Bengal government has, however, ordered a judicial inquiry.

Yesterday, the Defence Ministry said it had had no transaction with the NSO Group - Pegasus' makers.

The NSO group has said it is not connected to the leaked databases.

Disclaimer: The NSO group, which owns Pegasus, admits this is spyware and is used to hack phones, but says it does business only with governments and government agencies. The Israeli company says it does not corroborate the list of potential targets reported by media companies around the world.

Disclaimer: The Indian government has said there is "no substance" to the reports of Pegasus being used by it against opposition leaders, journalists and others. NDTV cannot independently verify the authenticity of the list of those who were supposedly targeted. 

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