New Delhi [India], July 22 (ANI): Lawyer Manohar Lal Sharma filed a Public Interest Litigation(PIL) seeking a Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team(SIT) probe into the alleged use of Pegasus spyware by the Central government to snoop into the phones of several politicians, journalists, social activists and others.
Sharma, in the PIL before the Supreme Court, has made the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and others as respondents.
He sought a direction from the top court for an SIT probe whether the Central government bought the Pegasus spyware following due procedure of law and whether and how it had been used since the purchase.
Sharma, in his petition, a copy accessed by ANI, filed before the Apex Court, raised various constitutional questions of law, including that of as to whether the constitution allows the Prime Minister and his Minister to snoop citizens of India for their vested political interest.
He also questioned that whether buying Pegasus software without approval can not contradict Articles 266(3), 267(2) and 283(2) of the Indian Constitution. For that can the accused persons be not prosecuted under section 408 (Criminal Breach of Trust), 120-B (Criminal Conspiracy) and several other relevant provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and other statute, the PIL said.
He also questioned as to whether snooping of common citizens of India, opposition leaders, judges and others do not attract an offence under Section 3 of the Official Secrets (OS) Act, 1923, and as well as 65, 66 and 72 of the Information Technology (IT) Act 2000, coupled with violation of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution
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 a direction to set up an SIT under the supervision of this court to investigate the Pegasus scandal and to prosecute all accused persons/ ministers for buying Pegasus and snooping of citizens of India, including judges, opposition leaders and political persons, activist, advocates and others.
He also said that the accused persons did this for their vested political interest since 2017.
Sharma also sought that the Apex Court should declare buying of Pegasus software for snooping is illegal and unconstitutional being violated of Art 21, 266(3), 267(2) and 283 of the constitution of India.
"The Pegasus scandal is a matter of grave concern and a serious attack on Indian democracy, judiciary and country's security. The widespread and unaccountable use of surveillance is morally disfiguring. Privacy is not about the wish to hide, as is often asserted. It is about having a space of one's own where our thoughts and being are not the instruments of someone else's purposes. It is an essential component of dignity and agency," the petition claimed.
"Pegasus is a chilling software. It is not just eavesdropping on conversations; it can be used to access the entire digital imprint of your life. It renders helpless not just the owner of the phone hacked but everyone who is in contact with them," the petition said.
"The national security implications of these revelations are enormous. The explosive growth of surveillance technology vendors is a global security and human rights problem. It is not primarily China, but democratic states like: Israel and the UK, that are selling technologies for deepening the surveillance powers of states," the petition filed by Sharma said. (ANI)