trendingNow,recommendedStoriesenglish2383464

Nobody should cross the limits, avoid parallel debates: SC on pleas for probe into Pegasus snooping row

The apex court was hearing a batch of pleas, including the one filed by the Editors Guild of India, seeking an independent probe into the alleged Pegasus snooping matter. 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.

Nobody should cross the limits, avoid parallel debates: SC on pleas for probe into Pegasus snooping row

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday took exception to ongoing parallel debates on social media and websites by some petitioners, who have filed pleas seeking an independent probe into the alleged Pegasus snooping matter, and said that they should observe discipline.

A three-bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana said the apex court is not against debates but when the matter is pending in court, it should be deliberated upon here.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, told the bench that he needed some time to take instructions from the government on the issue raised in the petitions. The bench, also comprising justices Vineet Saran and Surya Kant, posted the matter for hearing on August 16.

 

 

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for senior journalists N Ram and Sashi Kumar who have filed one of the petitions in the Pegasus snooping matter, said Ram was trolled on social media after the last hearing on the issue of court proceedings related to Pegasus in California.

The bench said, “This is what we are saying. We ask questions from parties. We take both parties to task. The matter should be deliberated here and it should not be debated on social media and websites. Parties should have faith in the system."

The apex court was hearing a batch of pleas, including the one filed by the Editors Guild of India, seeking an independent probe into the alleged Pegasus snooping matter. 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. During the hearing in the matter on August 5, the top court had said that allegations of Pegasus related snooping are "serious in nature" if reports on them are correct.

In the midst of the Pegasus snooping controversy, the Defence Ministry categorically had on Monday said that it did not have any transaction with the NSO Group, which sells the Israeli spyware.

NSO Group, an Israeli surveillance software company, has been under increasing attack following allegations that its Pegasus software was used for surveillance of phones of people in several countries, including India.

"Ministry of Defence has not had any transaction with NSO Group Technologies," Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt said while replying to a question in Rajya Sabha.

The controversy erupted after an investigation by a global media consortium based on leaked targeting data claimed evidence that the military-grade malware from the NSO Group was being used to spy on politicians, journalists, human rights activists and others. 

Opposition leaders including Rahul Gandhi, two union ministers - Prahlad Singh Patel and Railways and IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, businessman Anil Ambani, a former CBI chief, and at least 40 journalists were on the list on the leaked database of NSO. 

It is, however, not established that all the phones were hacked. However, the Narendra Modi govt and the Israeli NSO Group have categorically rejected all allegations of snooping and said that the report was ''baseless and unfounded.'' 

 Live TV