The Supreme Court of India has agreed to hear next week the plea filed by journalists N Ram associated with The Hindu and Sashi Kumar, founder of Asianet TV channel, seeking a probe headed by a retired or sitting judge into the accusation of using Pegasus spyware for snooping on Government’s critics. Senior advocate and Congress leader Kapil Sibal appeared for the petitioners in the Supreme Court on Friday, July 30 and argued for an urgent hearing, staying that the civil liberties of many individuals were put under surveillance. Chief Justice of India Justice NV Ramana said that the court will hear the case next week.
The petitioners, left-leaning journalists had asked the Union government to disclose whether it or any of its agencies obtained a license for or have used the Israeli spyware called Pegasus “directly or indirectly to carry out surveillance on Indian citizens.” They alleged that the Union government has “made absolutely no attempt” to conduct any credible investigation into these “extremely concerning allegations of mass surveillance,” more so, as the NSO Group which created Pegasus has said that it only deals with “vetted governments.” The mass surveillance of over 142 potential “targets”, including journalists, lawyers, ministers, Opposition politicians, constitutional functionaries and civil society activists, using military-grade Israeli spyware Pegasus. Sibal submitted that the petition ought to be heard urgently as it concerns issues affecting the fundamental rights, civil liberties of citizens and even national security. He said the issue was making waves not only in India but also globally. Edited by PKC