Need To Discourage Half-Baked Petitions Based On Newspapers: Supreme Court

The bench said such an exercise (of filing petitions), far from helping the cause espoused by the individual filing the petition, is often detrimental to the cause itself.

Need To Discourage Half-Baked Petitions Based On Newspapers: Supreme Court

Supreme Court was hearing batch of pleas seeking independent probe into the alleged Pegasus case

New Delhi:

The Supreme Court, which appointed a three-member panel of cyber experts to probe the alleged use of Israeli spyware Pegasus for surveillance of certain Indians, said on Wednesday that people should refrain from "trigger happy" filing of half baked petitions merely on a few newspaper reports.

A bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana said such petitions do not help the cause espoused by the individual filing the plea bur are rather a detriment to the cause itself.

"While we understand that the allegations made in these petitions pertain to matters about which ordinary citizens would not have information except for the investigating reporting done by news agencies, looking to the quality of some of the petitions filed, we are constrained to observe that individuals should not file half baked petitions merely on a few newspaper reports," the bench said.

The bench said such an exercise (of filing petitions), far from helping the cause espoused by the individual filing the petition, is often detrimental to the cause itself.

This is because the Court will not have proper assistance in the matter, with the burden to even determine preliminary facts being left to the Court, it said.

"It is for this reason that trigger happy filing of such petitions in Courts, and more particularly in this Court which is to be the final adjudicatory body in the country, needs to be discouraged," the bench also comprising Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli said.

The top court, however, said it should not be taken to mean that the news agencies are not trusted by the Court, but to emphasize the role that each pillar of democracy occupies in the polity.

"News agencies report facts and bring to light issues which might otherwise not be publicly known. These may then become the basis for further action taken by an active and concerned civil society, as well as for any subsequent filings made in Courts. But newspaper reports, in and of themselves, should not in the ordinary course be taken to be ready made pleadings that may be filed in Court," the bench said.

The top court appointed a three-member panel of cyber experts to probe alleged use of Israeli spyware Pegasus for surveillance of certain people, saying every citizen ought to be protected against violations of privacy and national security cannot be the "bugbear" that the judiciary shies away from and its mere innovation does not render a court a "mute spectator".

In one of the significant verdicts in recent times over the issue of citizens'' right of privacy in relation to State's power to snoop in national interest, the top court said that indiscriminate spying on individuals in a democratic country cannot be allowed while finding prima facie materials in pleas alleging snooping and ordered the probe monitored by a former top court judge RV Raveendran.

The top court was hearing a batch of pleas seeking independent probe into the alleged Pegasus snooping matter.

The pleas seeking independent probe are related to reports of alleged snooping by government agencies on eminent citizens, politicians and scribes by using Israeli firm NSO's spyware Pegasus.

An international media consortium had reported that over 300 verified Indian mobile phone numbers were on the list of potential targets for surveillance using Pegasus spyware.

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