The Central government Tuesday reiterated in the Supreme Court that it had nothing to hide on the Pegasus snooping matter. As the court resumed the hearing on the pleas for a court-monitored probe into the Pegasus issue, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said on behalf of the Centre that the matter concerns national security.
“We have nothing to hide. These are the issues of national security,” Mehta said.
“These software are purchased by every country and the petitioners want it to be divulged if the software has been used. If we divulge this then the terrorists can take preventive steps. These are national security issues and we cannot hide anything from the court,” he added.
The Solicitor General further argued that the matter has to be taken up by a committee and it cannot be debated in the public. He also claimed that some web portals were weaving narratives that some software was used.
“We can divulge this to a committee of experts and it’ll be a neutral body. Would you as a constitutional court expect such issues to be divulged before the court and put up for public debate? The committee will place its report before the court. But how can we sensationalise the issue,” the SG argued.
To this, the Supreme Court bench led by Chief Justice NV Ramana asserted that it is nobody’s intention to compromise with national security.
“We as a court and you as the SG and all lawyers as officers of the court, none of us would like to compromise with the security of the nation. For the defence of the nation, we’re not going to disclose anything. Some persons of eminence are alleging snooping of phones, now this can also be done but only with permission of the competent authority. What’s the problem if the authority files an affidavit before us?” the court asked.
To this the SG responded, “We’re all in our own right responsible citizens. The government doesn’t mind saying it before an expert group. Suppose a terror organisation uses technology to communicate with sleeper cells and we say we’re not using Pegasus, they’ll modulate apparatus in a way that it’s not Pegasus compatible.”
The Supreme Court then issued a notice to the Centre in response to the batch of PILs seeking a court-monitored probe into the alleged use of Pegasus. The court has given the Centre 10 days to file a detailed response.