SC Appoints Committee, Orders Thorough Inquiry In Pegasus Row

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SC Appoints Committee, Orders 'Thorough Inquiry' In Pegasus Row

The bench led by Chief Justice NV Ramana said that the Committee would 'enquire, investigate and determine' whether the Pegasus suite was used on phones or other devices of the citizens to access stored data and eavesdrop on conversations.

The Supreme Court of India has appointed an independent panel to investigate the allegations that Pegasus spyware sold to governments was used to hack phones and other electronic devices of several Members of Parliament (MP), activists and journalists. Multiple petitions were filed in the Apex Court seeking an investigation in matters of an illegal probe by the government. The phone numbers of the apparent targets were believed to be on a database and were of use to Israeli firm NSO. The leak of the list formed headlines on July 18.

Committee Would Be Supervised By Justice Raveendran

The Supreme Court's ruling mentioned that the State is not entitled to a free pass every time the issue of 'National Security' is raised. The independent Committee would comprise three technical members and be supervised by retired Judge Justice RV Raveendran.

The Committee would conduct a 'thorough inquiry' into the illegal surveillance. Apart from the technical officers, Justice Raveendran's team would comprise Alok Joshi, a former IPS officer from the 1976 batch; and Sundeep Oberoi, Chairman, Sub Committee in (International Organisation of Standardisation/International Electro-Technical Commission/Joint Technical Committee).

Committee Would 'Enquire, Instigate And Determine'

The Chief Justice-led Bench said that the Committee would 'enquire, investigate and determine' if the Pegasus suite of spyware accessing mobile phones and other devices of citizens to access their stored data, eavesdrop on conversations and intercepting information for any other reasons explicitly stated. The Committee would zero upon the number of people affected by this cyber-attack and the steps taken by the Union of India after reports were first published in 2019 about hacking the WhatsApp accounts of Indian citizens. The investigation would also look into the probability of purchasing the spyware from Israeli agencies by the central government, state governments, or any other centrally-backed agencies to use against the country's people, The Indian Express reported.

The Committee would also see any other aspect related to the terms of reference or which the Committee might feel appropriate to investigate. Citizens are hailing the Apex Court's orders on social media websites like Twitter and Facebook.

The Supreme Court's ruling came on a batch of 12 petitions that had approached the Apex Court for a thorough and unbiased probe about the use of spyware on the country's citizens.

Also Read: Chhattisgarh: Journalist, Assistant Held After Congress MLAs Complain Of False Information

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