New Delhi [India], July 27 (ANI): Senior journalists N Ram and Sashi Kumar approached the Supreme Court on Tuesday seeking an inquiry headed by a sitting or retired judge of the top court to investigate the reports of the government using Israeli software Pegasus to spy on politicians, activists, and journalists.
The petition also sought a direction to the Centre to disclose if it or any of its agencies have used Pegasus Spyware either directly or indirectly to conduct surveillance in any manner.
"Direct the Government of India to disclose if the Government of India or any of its agencies have obtained license(s) for Pegasus spyware and/or used/employed it, either directly or indirectly, to conduct surveillance in any manner whatsoever. Issue direction of constituting an inquiry to investigate the extent of surveillance on Indian citizens using the Pegasus spyware and other entities responsible for it, headed by sitting or retired judge of this court duly nominated by this court," stated the plea.
The plea said that the targeted surveillance using military-grade spyware is an unacceptable violation of the right to privacy which has been held to be a fundamental right under Articles 14, 19 and 21 by the Supreme Court in the KS Puttaswamy case.
The targeted hacking/interception of inter alia journalists, doctors, lawyers, civil society activists, government ministers and opposition politicians seriously compromises the effective exercise of the fundamental right to free speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a), added the petition.
The petitioners have claimed that investigation involving several leading publications around the world has revealed that more than 142 Indians, including journalists, lawyers, government ministers, opposition politicians, constitutional functionaries and civil society activists, have been identified as "potential targets" for surveillance using the Pegasus software.
This is the third writ petition filed in the apex court on the Pegasus Spyware issue. Earlier, Advocate ML Sharma and Rajya Sabha MP John Brittas of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) had filed PILs on the issue.
Brittas has sought a court-monitored probe by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) into reports of the government using Israeli software Pegasus to spy on people. The petition said that despite the very serious nature of the allegations, the government has not cared to investigate the issue.
Advocate Sharma sought direction for an SIT probe on whether the Union government bought the Pegasus spyware following due procedure of law and whether and how it had been used since the purchase.
Sharma said that in the interest of justice and fair play and for the protection of the life and liberty of the citizens of India, the Supreme Court should pass direction to set up an SIT under the supervision of this court for investigation of Pegasus scandal and to prosecute all accused persons/ ministers for buying Pegasus and snooping on citizen of India, including judges, opposition leaders and political persons, activist, advocates and others. (ANI)