Reports on Israeli Pegasus spyware allegedly being used to spy on opposition leaders, two union ministers and 40 journalists among others should be investigated by a sitting or former judge, senior journalists N Ram and Sashi Kumar have said in a petition to the Supreme Court.
The petition says the global investigation involving several leading publications around the world has revealed that more than 142 persons in India were identified as potential targets for surveillance using Israeli firm NSO's Pegasus spyware.
The petition says the Supreme Court should direct the government to disclose whether it has obtained a license for the spyware or used it - directly or indirectly - to conduct surveillance of any kind.
According to the petitioners, the forensic analysis of several mobile phones belonging to people listed as potential targets by the Security Lab of Amnesty International have confirmed security breaches.
Opposition leaders including Rahul Gandhi, two union ministers, businessman Anil Ambani, a former CBI chief, a virologist and 40 journalists are on the list of 300 phones from India revealed to be on the list of potential targets on the leaked database of NSO. It is not established, however, that all the phones were hacked.
The NSO group, which sells Pegasus to governments and government agencies only, says it is not connected to the leaked database of phone numbers. The government has said there is "no substance" in these reports.
Two petitions were filed earlier in the Supreme Court on the same case, one by CPM MP John Brittas and the other by advocate ML Sharma.