Pegasus row: Don’t wish to file detailed affidavit on pleas seeking probe into snooping, Centre tells SC

By: |
September 13, 2021 1:04 PM

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the bench, also comprising Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli, that whether a particular software is used or not by the government is not a matter for public discussion and making this information a part of an affidavit will not be in national interest.

supreme courtThe Centre told a bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana that it has ''nothing to hide'' and that's why the government has on its own said it will constitute a committee of domain experts to look into these allegations.

The Centre told the Supreme Court on Monday that it does not wish to file a detailed affidavit on a batch of petitions seeking independent probe into the alleged Pegasus snooping row.

The Centre told a bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana that it has ”nothing to hide” and that’s why the government has on its own said it will constitute a committee of domain experts to look into these allegations. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the bench, also comprising Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli, that whether a particular software is used or not by the government is not a matter for public discussion and making this information a part of an affidavit will not be in national interest. Mehta said the report of the committee of domain experts will be placed before the apex court.

The top court told Mehta that it had already made clear that it did not want the government to disclose anything which compromises national security. The hearing in the matter is going on.

On September 7, the apex court had granted more time to the Centre to decide on filing a further response on the petitions after Mehta had said that due to some difficulties he could not meet the officials concerned to take a decision on the filing of the second affidavit.

The Centre had earlier filed a limited affidavit in the top court saying the pleas seeking an independent probe into the Pegasus snooping allegations are based on “conjectures and surmises or on other unsubstantiated media reports or incomplete or uncorroborated material”. It had stated that the position on the issue has already been clarified in Parliament by Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw.

With a view to dispelling any wrong narrative spread by certain vested interests and examining the issues raised, the government will constitute a committee of experts, it had said.

The pleas 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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