Tuesday, May 17, 2022
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Pegasus Row: Centre Tells SC Matter Is Not For 'Public Discussion', Refuses To File Detailed Affidavit

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that a committee of domain experts will be constituted and its report would be made available to the Supreme Court.

Pegasus Row: Centre Tells SC Matter Is Not For 'Public Discussion', Refuses To File Detailed Affidavit
Supreme Court Of India PTI

The Centre told the Supreme Court on Monday that it does not wish to file a detailed affidavit on a batch of petitions seeking an independent probe into the alleged Pegasus snooping row.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told a bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana that it has “nothing to hide” and that's why the government has on its own said it will constitute a committee of domain experts to look into these allegations.

Tushar Mehta continued, also comprising Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli, that whether a particular software is used or not by the government is not a matter for public discussion and making this information a part of an affidavit will not be in national interest.

Mehta said the report of the committee of domain experts will be made available to the Supreme Court.

The top court said that it had already made clear that it did not want the government to disclose anything which compromises national security.

The hearing in the matter is going on.

On September 7, the apex court had granted more time to the Centre to decide on filing a further response on the Pegasus petitions after Mehta had said that due to some difficulties, he could not meet the concerned officials who were in the authority to make a decision on the filing of the second affidavit.

Before this, the centre had filed a limited affidavit in the top court saying the pleas seeking an independent probe into the Pegasus snooping allegations were based on "conjectures and surmises or on other unsubstantiated media reports or incomplete or uncorroborated material".

It had stated that the position on the issue had already been clarified in Parliament by Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw.

With a view to dispelling any wrong narrative spread by certain vested interests and examining the issues raised, the government will constitute a committee of experts, it had said.

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.

(With PTI Inputs)

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