The Supreme Court appointed a committee of experts to inquire into the alleged use of Israeli spyware Pegasus for surveillance of Indian citizens.
A bench comprising Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli said the three-member committee will be headed by former top court judge RV Raveendran.
Citing national security, the Centre had refused to file a detailed affidavit in the matter.
The pleas are related to reports of alleged snooping by government agencies on eminent citizens, politicians and scribes by using Israeli firm NSO's spyware Pegasus.
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. 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.
Here are the LIVE updates on Pegasus Snooping case:
- But despite repeated chances they gave limited affidavit that does not give clarity
- If they had clarified they would have reduced the burden on us
- But that does not mean state gets a free pass every time national security is raised
- Court will not encroach upon national security but that does not make the court a mute spectator
- Vague denial from govt which is not sufficient
- Hence allegations need to be probed
- Appointing expert committee to be supervised by retired judge of Supreme Court
- Nature of allegations is about fundamental rights being violated
- This could have chilling effect
- Important concerns for freedom of press which is important pillar of democracy
- And protection of sources of journalists
- Petitions were based only on news reports and we usually dismiss such petitions but more arguments were brought forward from the petitioners
- We issued notice to government
- We gave ample opportunity to govt to give details of all action taken by it
- Privacy is not just for journos and politicians but also about rights of individuals
- Certain limitations on right to privacy but all decisions should be under constitutional process
- Agencies use surveillance to fight terror. A need may arise to intrude privacy.
- But consideration for use of technology must follow constitutional process.
- The present batch of petitions raise a concern about how technology can be used
- Petitions seek enquiry into alleged abuse
- Without allowing ourselves to be consumed into political rhetoric
- We have never refrained from protecting people from their fundamental rights being abused
- To ensure credibility of process petitions seek enquiry
- Right to privacy need to be discussed
- The Supreme Court will take a call today on whether there will be a court-monitored investigation into the explosive Pegasus snooping row that dominated headlines earlier this year.
- The judgment will be given at 10.30 am by a three-judge bench of Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, Justice Surya Kant and Justice Hima Kohli.
- After a detailed hearing in the case, the top court had said that it was in the process of forming an independent committee of experts to probe the matter.
- Apart from a court-monitored investigation, the petitioners - who included former union minister Yashwant Sinha, CPM MP John Brittas, Supreme Court advocate ML Sharma, the Editors' Guild of India and individual journalists - had asked the court to order the government to produce details of the alleged unauthorised surveillance using the Pegasus software, built by the Israeli firm NSO Group.
- The government, the petitioners said, should disclose the details of how it obtained licence for the spyware, used it directly or indirectly, and the list of people who were targeted.