Appearing for the government, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that he is going through the details of the case and he needs instructions from the government.
A three-judge bench of Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana today assembled to hear a clutch of petitions demanding a court-monitored probe into reports which alleged that the Narendra Modi government used Israeli firm NSO’s spyware software Pegasus to snoop on politicians, activists, and journalists. The petitions were filed by journalist N Ram, Jagdeep Chhokar, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, John Brittas, Editors Guild of India, and TMC leader Yashwant Sinha among others.
Appearing for the government, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that he is going through the details of the case and he needs instructions from the government. He requested the court to not keep the next hearing before Friday. However, the CJI, citing personal inconvenience, posted the matter for August 16 while urging the parties involved to debate the issue inside the court.
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“Any of the petitioners who are interested in the matter and saying things in newspapers, we expect they will answer our queries through a proper debate in the court hall and not outside….If you want to say anything in social media, Twitter etc, it’s your call. But if a debate is going on here, please answer here. Have some respect for the system,” reported the Bar and Bench quoting the CJI.
Justice Surya Kant then asked the petitioners to answer the questions in court through affidavits.
During the previous hearing, though the apex court had not issued any formal notice, it had asked all petitioners to serve an advance copy upon the Central government. SG Mehta today informed that while he has received copies from all petitioners, he is yet to get it from Yashwant Sinha.
The court had also remarked that while the allegations made through media are serious if true, no efforts seem to have been made by the affected persons to file criminal complaints with the police before approaching the court.
Meanwhile, the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR) and the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI) have written to the Chief Justice of India N V Ramana and have urged the court to live webcast the hearings of the Pegasus case.