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Pegasus snooping row: SC issues notice to West Bengal on plea against inquiry commission by former SC judge

By Garima Tyagi | Updated: Aug 18, 2021 13:31 IST

New Delhi [India], August 18 (ANI): The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued notice to the West Bengal government on a plea seeking to quash notification for constituting an Inquiry Commission headed by a former SC judge to investigate allegations relating to Pegasus Spyware snooping case.
The Centre government has proposed Justice Madan B Lokur, former SC judge to head the Inquiry Commission.
A Bench headed by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, however, refused to stay the proceedings of the committee.
The Bench said the plea will be heard along with other pending petitions seeking a court-monitored probe into the reports of the government allegedly using Israeli software Pegasus to spy on politicians, activists, court staff and journalists.
"We will hear this along with other similar matters. Issue notice. List on August 25," the Bench said.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for the Centre said he wants to assist the Court on the issue and said the state government's step to constitute such a committee is unconstitutional.
The PIL filed by Global Village Foundation Public Charitable Trust sought direction to disband the two-member Commission of Inquiry headed by a retired apex court judge, Justice Madan B Lokur and also comprising former Acting Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court, Justice (retired) Jyotirmay Bhattacharya by the state government to probe the allegations of snooping by Pegasus software developed by Israeli spyware firm NSO.
Advocate Saurabh Mishra appearing for the petitioner requested the Bench to stay the proceedings stating that proceedings before the committee should not go on when the issue is being examined at a pan-India level.
The apex court refusing to stay the proceedings said the committee is only taking preliminary steps.
Yesterday, the apex court had issued notice to the government and asked it to respond on a batch of petitions seeking a court-monitored probe into the reports of the government allegedly using Israeli software Pegasus to spy on politicians, activists, and journalists.
The Centre has apprised the top court that it has decided to constitute a Committee of Experts, which will examine all the issues relating to the alleged Pegasus snooping issue.
The Centre also denied all the allegations of snooping on journalists, politicians, activists and court staff and maintained the petitions are based on conjectures and there is no substance in the accusations.
The top court had earlier observed that the allegations about the Central government allegedly using Israeli software Pegasus to spy on people "are serious if news reports are correct".
As many as 11 pleas were filed before the SC by senior journalists N Ram, and Sashi Kumar, Rajya Sabha MP John Brittas of Communist Marxist Party of India (Marxist) and advocate ML Sharma, former Union minister Yashwant Sinha, RSS ideologue KN Govindacharya.
Journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, SNM Abdi, Prem Shankar Jha, Rupesh Kumar Singh and Ipsa Shatakshi, who are reported to be on the potential list of snoop targets of Pegasus spyware, had also approached the top court along with The Editors Guild of India (EGI) among others.
The pleas sought inquiry headed by a sitting or retired judge of the top court to investigate the alleged snooping. (ANI)