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Pegasus snooping row: Centre to set up committee, says ‘petitions in SC are based on conjectures’

 The Centre on Monday filed an affidavit on Pegasus controversy in the Supreme Court, saying that it will set up a committee of experts to examine the issue of alleged snooping, “to dispel any wrong narrative spread by certain vested interests.”

A bench of Chief Justice NV Ramana and justices Suryakant and Aniruddha Bose granted 10 days time to the Centre, to make appointments to Tribunals despite recommendations by the selection committees.

The top court is hearing a batch of petitions, including the one filed by the Editors Guild of India, seeking independent probe into the alleged Pegasus snooping matter.

In the affidavit, the Centre “unequivocally” denied all allegations made against it by petitioners led by journalist N Ram about using military grade spyware to snoop on journalists, politicians, activists and court staff.

The PILs by N Ram, Yashwant Sinha, Editors Guild and seven others have made allegations “based on conjectures and surmises or on other unsubstantiated media reports or incomplete or uncorroborated material”, the Centre said in the two-page affidavit filed by the Additional Secretary, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that such material cannot be basis for filing PILs.

An international media consortium recently reported that more than 300 verified mobile phone numbers, including of two current ministers, over 40 journalists, three opposition leaders and one sitting judge besides scores of businesspersons and activists in India could have been allegedly targeted for hacking through Israeli Pegasus spyware sold only to government agencies.

Earlier, during the hearing of the matter, the apex court had said that allegations of Pegasus related snooping are “serious in nature” if reports on them are correct.

 

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