Supreme Court stays proceedings by commission appointed by West Bengal govt to probe Pegasus snooping row

Senior advocate A M Singhvi, appearing for the state government, said it had earlier conveyed the message of restraint to the Lokur panel which did not proceed till delivery of the October 27 order.

A bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana expressed dissatisfaction over a parallel inquiry being conducted by the West Bengal commission when the Supreme Court had already constituted an expert committee to look into the matter. (PTI)

The Supreme Court today stayed all proceedings by the 2-member Inquiry Commission headed by former top court judge Justice Madan B Lokur which was constituted by the West Bengal government to probe the alleged Pegasus snooping row. Besides Justice Lokur, former Calcutta High Court chief justice Jyotirmay Bhattacharya is the other member of the commission of inquiry announced by the West Bengal government. A bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana expressed dissatisfaction over a parallel inquiry being conducted by the West Bengal commission when the Supreme Court had already constituted an expert committee to look into the matter. The apex court had ordered the setting up of a three-member panel of cyber experts to look into the issue on October 27.

The bench was hearing a plea that claimed that the Lokur commission had commenced work despite the assurance from the West Bengal government that it would not proceed with the inquiry. “What is this? Last time you (West Bengal government) had given an undertaking, which we wanted to record, that the commission will not proceed. You had said that it was not necessary to record in the order. Again you started inquiring,” said the bench while issuing the stay order.

Senior advocate A M Singhvi, appearing for the state government, said it had earlier conveyed the message of restraint to the Lokur panel which did not proceed till delivery of the October 27 order. Moreover, the government cannot give such a direction, he said.

To this, the bench headed by CJI Ramana said it understands the ‘state’s predicament’ and ordered the stay. The plea was filed by lawyer M L Sharma in his personal capacity. Sharma claimed that the proceedings of the West Bengal Commission of inquiry amounts to ‘gross contempt of court’, reported PTI.

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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