36 views 3 mins 0 comments

Allegations of Snooping Serious, if Correct: SC on Pegasus Row

In News
August 05, 2021

The Supreme Court Thursday said the allegations of Pegasus-related snooping are serious if the reports on it are correct and asked the petitioners, including Editors Guild of India and senior journalist N Ram, to serve the copies of the pleas seeking probe into the Israeli spyware matter to the Centre so that somebody from the government is present to accept notice.

A bench of Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justice Surya Kant asked some questions at the outset from senior counsel Kapil Sibal, appearing for the Editors Guild and senior journalists N Ram and Sashi Kumar.

“Before going into all that, we have certain questions. No doubt, the allegations are serious, if the reports are true,” the CJI observed and raised the issue of delay, saying the matter had come to light way back in 2019.

Reports of snooping came to light in 2019. I do not know whether any efforts were made to get more information, CJI Ramana observed, adding that he did not want to say that it was an impediment.

The top court said it was not going into the facts of each case and if the some people claimed that their phones were intercepted then there is the Telegraph Act under which complaints can be filed.

“I can explain. We do not have the access to many materials. The petitions have information about 10 cases of direct infiltration into phones,” Sibal said.

The apex court asked the counsel appearing for the petitioners to serve the copy of the pleas to the Centre.

“Let them serve copies of the petition to the government. Somebody should appear for the government to take notice,” the bench said while posting the matter for hearing on August 10.

“We do not know in which matter we will issue notice. Let them come before us to accept the notices and then we will see,” the bench said.

The court was hearing nine petitions, including those filed by the Editors Guild and senior journalists seeking independent probe into the alleged Pegasus snooping matter.

The pleas relate 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 has reported that over 300 verified Indian mobile phone numbers were on the list of potential targets for surveillance using Pegasus spyware.