Pegasus issue: SC issues notice before admission to Centre on pleas for probe

The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued notice before admission to the Central Government in a batch of petitions seeking probe into the Pegasus snooping controversy.

A bench comprising the Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, Justice Surya Kant and Aniruddha Bose posted after 10 days the petitions seeking court-monitored inquiry by a Special Investigation Team or a judicial probe into reports of alleged snooping of activists, politicians, journalists and constitutional bodies using the Pegasus spyware.

The Central Government on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that it does not want to file any additional affidavit in the Pegasus issue, as national security aspects are involved. The Centre added that it is willing to place the details before the expert committee proposed to be constituted by it to examine the issues.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court had adjourned the hearing to today to ascertain if the Union Government wanted to file an additional affidavit in the matter. This was after the petitioners highlighted that the “limited affidavit” filed by the Centre has evaded the question whether Government or its agencies have ever used Pegasus.

Today, the Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta told the Court that the affidavit already filed by the Centre in the case is “sufficient” and a further affidavit is uncalled for. The Solicitor said that if the Government is disclosing in public that it is not using a particular interception software, the terrorist organizations will take advantage of that information to change their communication settings.

He said that such matters cannot be placed in an affidavit and be made a matter of “public debate”. At the same time, the Solicitor added that the Government will place all the details before the proposed technical committee, which he assured, will consist only of neutral officers.