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Pegasus snooping scandal: Supreme Court adjourns hearing to August 16

The Supreme Court of India on Tuesday adjourned the hearing on a batch of pleas seeking a court-monitored Special Investigation Team (SIT) probe into the Pegasus snooping controversy to August 16.

On August 5, the apex court had asked the petitioners to serve copies of their respective petitions to the Centre.

What happened during the August 5 hearing?

At the previous hearing, a bench of Chief Justice NV Ramana and Justice Surya Kant had said that if the reports in the newspapers are accurate, allegations of snooping related to Pegasus are serious.

The SC further sought the Centre’s response on petitions including those by the Editors Guild of India and senior journalist N Ram seeking an inquiry into the Israeli spyware issue.

The court heard nine petitions, including those filed by the Editors Guild and senior journalists, seeking an independent investigation into the alleged Pegasus snooping case.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Ram, argued before the court that Pegasus is a rogue technology that is entirely illegal, as it seeps into our lives through the telephone and also hears and monitors us. According to Sibal, it is an assault on privacy and human dignity.

In response, Chief Justice Ramana stated: “Before going into all that, we have certain questions. No doubt, the allegations are serious, if reports in the newspapers are correct.”

He, however, noted: “Majority of petitions rely on foreign newspapers, but where is the verifiable material for us to order an inquiry? The surveillance issue came to light two years ago, in May 2019. I don’t see any serious effort to raise the issue, why now suddenly?”

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

Following more than an hour spent listening to several senior advocates, the bench ruled that someone must appear for the government to place its position and accept notice, if one is issued. In addition, the bench said it is not certain which of the PILs will be heard and asked counsels appearing for petitioners to serve copies of their pleas to the Center.

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

 

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