SC to pronounce verdict on Pegasus snooping row todaytext_fields
New Delhi: The Supreme Court will deliver its judgement today on a batch of pleas seeking an independent probe into the Pegasus snooping matter.
A bench comprising Chief Justice NV Ramana and Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli had reserved an order on September 13, saying it only wanted to know whether or not the Centre used the Pegasus spyware through illegal methods to allegedly snoop on citizens.
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 the licence for the spyware, used it directly or indirectly, and the list of people who were targeted.
The Centre had refused to reveal say whether the spyware was used or not and citing national security issues, told the court that it cannot file a detailed affidavit. It had, however, offered to form an independent committee of experts that could investigate the issue under the Supreme Court's supervision.
The clutch of petitions was filed in the top court after a consortium of global media houses reported in July that a host of opposition politicians, journalists and others were targets of the spyware.
According to reports by the news portal "The Wire", more than 142 people in India were potential targets. The alleged list included Congress's Rahul Gandhi, poll strategist Prashant Kishor, two serving Union Ministers, an ex-Election Commissioner, two registrars of the Supreme Court, an old number of a former judge, a close aide of a former Attorney General and 40 journalists.
Forensic analysis of some of the cellphones by the Security Lab of Amnesty International confirmed a security breach, the reports said.
The government came under pressure after the software vendor NSO said its clients are only "vetted" governments and their agencies. With the opposition up in arms over the reports, little was done during the Monsoon Session of parliament.