Published: 27th October 2021
Pegasus: SC forms a committee of academicians to determine whether Central government spied on citizens
The SC Bench headed by the CJI himself is reported to have said that "no seriousness has been accorded" by the Union government in the matter where entire citizenry may be affected
In order to look into allegations that the Union government was spying on some of its own citizens using Israeli-origin spyware Pegasus, the Supreme Court Bench led by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana formed an expert committee of academicians on October 27.
The committee members would include Dr Naveen Kumar Chaudhary, Professor of Cyber Security and Digital Forensics and the Dean at the National Forensic Sciences University in Gujarat, Dr Prabaharan P, Professor of School of Engineering at the Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham in Kerala and Dr Ashwin Anil Gumaste, Institute Chair and Associate Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay. It is noteworthy that the committee would be headed by former Supreme Court Judge RV Raveendran and Alok Joshi, former Chief of Research and Analysis Wing, would be assisting. It also includes Dr Sundeep Oberoi, the Global Head of Cybersecurity Services at Tata Consultancy Services.
According to LiveLaw, while passing the order in the matter the Supreme Court bench said, "Compelling circumstances involved are that Right to Privacy is alleged to be impacted and the entire citizenry is affected. (While) no clear stand has been taken by the Union of India and no seriousness has been accorded."
The Bench appears to have further come down hard on the Centre for its limited response in the court. Live law reported that the bench said, "There has been no specific denial of any of the facts averred by the Petitioners by the Respondent — Union of India. There has only been an omnibus & vague denial in the “limited affidavit”filed by the Respondent-Union of India, which cannot be sufficient."
Several journalists, lawyers, activists and politicians – including five confirmed targets on whom the Pegasus software was used – had moved the Supreme Court earlier this year with nine petitions in total, asking for a judicial probe into the matter.