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New Delhi: In a significant development, the Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear next week the plea of senior journalists N. Ram and Sashi Kumar seeking an independent probe by a sitting or retired apex court judge into the Pegasus snooping matter.
A bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana took note of the submissions of senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Ram and Kumar, that the petition has been filed and numbered and needed to be heard in view of the large ramifications of the alleged snooping.
According to LiveLaw, Sibal said, “This is an urgent matter. Making waves not just in India but internationally.”
“We will list it sometime in next week,” the CJI said.
An international consortium of media organisations, including The Wire, have published several stories which suggest that the military-grade spyware Pegasus has been misused to target activists, politicians, journalists and several other persons. The Israeli maker of the spyware, NSO Group, says that Pegasus is sold only to “vetted governments” and is meant for use against criminals and terrorists.
Ram and Kumar’s plea said the alleged snooping represented an attempt by official agencies to “muzzle and chill the exercise of free speech and expression of dissent in India”.
The petition asks the court to order the Government of India to reveal whether it or any agencies related to it had obtained a license for or used the spyware, and whether Pegasus was used at any point to carry out surveillance on Indian citizens.
“Such mass surveillance using a military-grade spyware abridges several fundamental rights and appears to represent an attempt to infiltrate, attack and destabilise independent institutions that act as critical pillars of our democratic set-up,” the petition says.
(With PTI inputs)