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Pegasus row: Supreme Court appoints panel to probe controversy

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New Delhi: With “no specific denial” in the Pegasus spyware issue, the Supreme Court on Wednesday appointed an expert committee comprising three members to probe the controversy.

The SC bench, comprising Chief Justice NV Ramana and Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli, noted that while technology was important, it was also important to safeguard the right to privacy.

It further remarked that the Pegasus snooping allegation was chilling in nature and that the court needed to find the truth.

“There has been no specific denial by the Centre… thus we have no option but to accept the submissions of petitioner prima facie and we appoint an expert committee,” the court said. The work of the panel will be overseen by the court.

The panel will be headed by former SC judge RV Raveendran and will also have Alok Joshi and Sandeep Oberoi.

The bench has asked the panel to prepare its report expeditiously. The next hearing will be held after eight weeks.

The court observed that while it was not satisfied with earlier petitions filed on the basis of newspaper reports, the later ones were filed by people who were direct victims.

The court said it had given enough opportunity to the Centre to respond to the allegation regarding use of Pegasus software, but the latter’s limited affidavit did not throw any light on the issue. The vague nature of the response has compelled the court to form a committee to probe the row.

It also observed that the court could not remain a mute spectator to allegations of the violation of citizens’ rights and that the government could not be given a free pass by raising national security issue.

 

 

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