The CG asks the center if it has gone beyond the law in the Pegasus case
In the Pegasus espionage case, when the central government said it did not want to file an affidavit, the Supreme Court sought an interim order in the matter and upheld the decision. The petitioner has sought an independent or SIT inquiry into the matter under the leadership of retired Supreme Court justices.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of the Supreme Court NV Ramana said on behalf of the Center that it did not want to file an affidavit considering national security and the wider public interest in the matter. “We understood that the government would file an affidavit in the matter and then take further action,” the bench said. But now the only point left to consider is that the interim order must be passed.
Central Government- does not want to file affidavit
As the hearing of the case began on Monday, Tushar Mehta, the solicitor general of the central government, first said that there was no illegal surveillance or tapping under the IT Act and the Telegraph Act. We will set up a committee to look into the matter. On this, Chief Justice NV Raman stopped Mehta and said, “No, Mr. Mehta, you had asked for time to file the affidavit for the last hearing.” Are you saying all this now The matter has been investigated and now it is the role of the government that the issue may not be up for discussion in court. The role of the government in whether or not this particular software has been used cannot be given in the form of an affidavit. This issue cannot be discussed in court. The central government does not want to file an affidavit in this regard. The matter should come before the court in the form of an affidavit and should not be a matter of public discussion, as the matter is of great interest and national security.
Terrorist groups will be alerted if information is leaked: Solicitor General
In the Supreme Court, Central Government Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the matter was related to national security and the issue could not be discussed through a detailed affidavit. This case should not be taken to court. It should not be brought into public discussion as it is in the public interest and national security. We don’t want to sensitize this issue. Mehta said the government would set up a committee on the matter and it would look into the matter. “Let’s say we don’t use this software (Pegasus), then the terrorist group will be vigilant in this case,” Mehta said. If you say use it, keep in mind that each software has its own counter software.
The issue of national security is important but we don’t want that information: Justice Suryakant
On this, Supreme Court Justice Suryakant said, “We do not want information on national security and the wider public interest.” This issue also came up in the last hearing, we have clarified that there is no discussion on disclosing any material related to national security on any platform. Whether it is a question of internal security or external security, the issue of national security and integrity is a very sensitive issue and we are all concerned about it. We do not want such information.
We only want to know whether the petitioner has violated the fundamental right to life by violating the fundamental and right to life or whether the agency has done so with the permission of the concerned agency. If so, it is a matter of difficulty for everyone. All we want to say is, has the government used any process beyond the law?
‘The government has taken a path that the law does not allow’
Chief Justice NV Raman said some journalists, activists and other citizens have come before the court, accused of spying on their phones. We do not want information related to national security in any way. We are only concerned about allegations of espionage made by journalists and activists. We want to know from you (Center) that the government has adopted software and method which is not allowed by law. All we want to know is that if the petitioners are journalists, activists, then the government had chosen such a path or not?
The petitioner said – the government cannot violate constitutional rights
Defending the petitioners, journalists N Ram and Shashi Kumar, senior advocate Kapil Sibal said that the state could not file any case to prevent the court from conducting the entire trial. Referring to the black money case, Sibal said it was the duty of the state (government) to present all the facts before the court. It also informed the petitioner of the facts. This case is a violation of constitutional right and the state cannot act contrary to this case. The state cannot violate the constitutional rights of the people by suppressing or withholding information.
It is unbelievable that the Indian government is saying that it will not tell the court anything. International organizations have acknowledged that Indians have been targeted. Experts say the phone was hacked. Only yesterday Germany admitted that the phone was hacked but the Indian government is not ready to accept it. In 2019, the IT minister had said that some people have been targeted. What action has the government taken so far? Did he make an FIR? Was action taken against NSO? Why should the government be allowed to set up committees on its own? Even if it happens, it should be out of the control of the government. The fact is that the Indian government does not deny that it did not use the software.
Government does not rule out use of Pegasus: Dinesh Dwivedi
Petitioner’s counsel Shyam Diwan submitted that the use of Pegasus not only monitors but also creates fake data and documents and can be inserted into the device. If a Pegasus is built and used by a foreign agency, it is the duty of the Government of India to protect the public interest. If the government has done that, it cannot do so under IT law. Meanwhile, Dinesh Dwivedi said the government’s affidavit was contradictory. On the one hand, she herself is saying that the allegations are baseless and on the other hand, the allegations are serious and she is going to set up an expert committee. The fact is that the government did not deny the spying. The government should be asked if it has used Pegasus spyware. Secondly, the Supreme Court should inquire into the matter instead of the government committee.
Why doubt the government committee: Solicitor General
Tushar Mehta said there is no illegal surveillance or tapping under the IT Act and the Telegraph Act. The Center has also given this statement in Parliament. Still, the point is important, so we are ready to set up a committee. Mehta referred to the IT minister’s statement in Parliament and said that any illegal surveillance was impossible. If some people are talking about privacy violations, the government is also taking it seriously and will set up a committee. Tushar Mehta said the credibility of the committee set up by the government should not be questioned. We have to look at both the rights of the people and national security and there is a slight difference. The law does not allow phone surveillance and all technology can be used and misused. There should be no doubt about the government committee. The experts will have no connection with the government. Secondly, it will report to the Supreme Court and the committee will be accountable to the Supreme Court.
The case is now on interim order
On this the Chief Justice said we are sorry Mehta. You keep going back. We have repeatedly said that we do not want to know the issue of national security. The issue of appointment of committee is not here. We wanted to know if you can explain your role by filing an affidavit. We wanted to know your role through your affidavit or was it monitored under any process? We gave the central government enough time to file a reply. But he does not want to file an affidavit. We thought the government would file an affidavit and further action would be taken but now the only issue left is whether to issue an interim order in this case. We are considering whether to issue an interim order. Let’s see if the order passes. We will issue an interim order in this matter in two-three days. In the meantime, if Mr. Mehta thinks anything, he can tell.
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