Allegations of snooping serious, if correct: SC on Pegasus matter


PTI, Aug 5, 2021, 12:12 PM IST

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday said allegations of snooping are serious if the reports regarding it are correct as it commenced hearing on a batch of pleas seeking an independent probe into the alleged Pegasus snooping matter.

A bench of Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justice Surya Kant asked some questions at the outset from senior counsel Kapil Sibal appearing for the Editors Guild of India and senior journalists N Ram and Sashi Kumar. “Before going into all that, we have certain questions. No doubt, the allegations are serious, if the reports are true,” the CJI observed and raised the issue of delay, saying the matter had come to light way back in 2019.
Reports of snooping came to light in 2019. I do not know whether any efforts were made to get more information, the CJI observed, adding that he did not want to say that it was an impediment. The top court said that it was not going into the facts of each case and if some people claimed that their phones were intercepted then there is the Telegraph Act under which complaints can be filed. “I can explain. We do not have the access to many materials. The petitions have information about 10 cases of direct infiltration into phones,” Sibal said. The hearing on as many as nine petitions, including those filed by the Editors Guild of India and senior journalists seeking an independent probe into the alleged Pegasus snooping matter, is presently on. They are related to reports of alleged snooping by government agencies on eminent citizens, politicians, and scribes by using Israeli firm NSO’s spyware Pegasus.

An international media consortium has reported that over 300 verified Indian mobile phone numbers were on the list of potential targets for surveillance using Pegasus spyware.

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