Supreme Court of India.

“Maintain restraints”, says SC to WB Govt on the Commission of Inquiry panel over Pegasus

THE West Bengal Government Wednesday assured the Supreme Court that the Commission of Inquiry set up by it to look into allegations of snooping on politicians, officials and journalists using the Israeli spyware, Pegasus, would pause the probe until the top court hears the Pegasus matter which is likely to be listed next week for hearing.

Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, for the state government, gave this assurance to a CJI led bench after it told the state government to maintain restraint as the Court is already hearing a batch of petitions seeking a probe into Pegasus snooping scandal.

The court issued the notice to the West Bengal Government and tagged the matter with a batch of petitions on the Pegasus matter.

The top court was hearing a PIL filed by NGO Global Village Foundation seeking to quash the inquiry commission on the ground that the state government had no jurisdiction to constitute the said commission. The NGO contended that what is needed is a pan-India inquiry by technical experts to examine the issue of alleged hacking of information in phones using military-grade spyware Pegasus and added that the SC has already taken up for hearing a large number of petitions seeking court-monitored SIT probe into the controversy.

The NGO is being represented by senior advocate Harish Salve.

Last month, the West Bengal Chief Minister announced a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice Madan B Lokur to look into allegations of snooping by using Pegasus malware.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court Tuesday issued a pre-admission stage notice to the Central Government in a clutch of petitions demanding a court-monitored investigation into the alleged potential targeting of activists, journalists, politicians, judges and government officials using the Israeli spyware, Pegasus.

Following the revelations, several petitions were filed in the Supreme Court by, among others, Rajya Sabha MP John Brittas, Director of the Hindu Group of publications N Ram, founder of Asianet Sashi Kumar, Editors Guild of India, journalists Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, SNM Abdi, Prem Shankar Jha, Rupesh Kumar Singh and Ipsa Shatakshi, advocate ML Sharma and former Union Minister Yashwant Sinha.