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SC Orders Pegasus probe forms expert committee

SC Orders Pegasus probe forms expert committee
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Ground Report | New Delhi: SC Orders Pegasus probe; The Supreme Court bench noted that it only wanted to know whether the central government used Israeli spyware by illegal means to spy on citizens.

The order was given by a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court comprising Chief Justice NV Ramana, Justice Surya Kant, and Justice Hima Kohli. The committee will have three technical experts and retired judge Justice RV Raveendran will oversee the work of the committee.

The committee will study all the allegations and submit its report to the court. The Supreme Court will hear the matter again after eight weeks. The hearing is being held on 12 petitions that were filed by the Editors Guild of India, journalists N Ram, Shashi Kumar and Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, Trinamool Congress leader Yashwant Singh and ADR body co-founder Jagdeep Chhokar.

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The top court said there is a serious concern about the involvement of a foreign agency in the surveillance of Indians, and said, “the violation of the right to privacy should be probed.”

The Center had earlier told the apex court that it was ready to constitute a committee of independent experts to probe all aspects of the alleged Pegasus espionage controversy. It had said which software was used for an interception in the interest of national security cannot be open to public debate.

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SC Orders Pegasus probe

The bench said that while it was initially unhappy with some of the petitions filed before it, which were based only on news reports, there were also petitions filed before it by “direct victims” of the Pegasus hacking.

The bench criticized the response of the central government, represented by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, which had termed reports about the use of Pegasus as motivated, and declined to clarify whether it had purchased and used the spyware.

However, despite the court giving the Center ample opportunity to respond and providing information taken since 2019, when the first Pegasus revelations came to light, it had submitted only a limited affidavit, “which did not shed any light on their stand”.

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The court accepted that the Center “may refuse to provide information if a constitutional consideration exists, such as one relating to the security of the State.”

“The Respondent-Union of India must establish and prove facts which indicate that the information sought should be kept confidential as their disclosure would affect national security concerns. They should justify their stand. Which they place before a court. Merely calling for national security of the state does not make the court a mute spectator.”

what is the matter

Pegasus is Israeli spy software. In November 2019, it came to light that with the help of WhatsApp, at least 24 citizens in India were spied on. Then in July 2021, a global media investigation revealed that more than 300 mobile numbers were spied in India through Pegasus.

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These included two ministers working at that time in the Narendra Modi government, three leaders of the opposition, a constitutional officer, several journalists, and many businessmen. The Israeli company NSO, which owns Pegasus, believes that it is spyware ie espionage software, and is used to hack phones.

But the company also told that it sells this software only to governments and government agencies. The Indian government has also been accused of using it, but the government has denied these allegations.

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