National security cannot be bugbear: SC forms independent expert committee to probe Pegasus snooping allegation

National security cannot be bugbear: SC forms independent expert committee to probe Pegasus snooping allegation

The committee will comprise of three members and will be headed by former judge of the Supreme Court, Justice RV Ravindran.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court, on Wednesday, ordered the constitution of an independent expert committee to probe Pegasus snooping allegation. The committee will comprise of three members and will be headed by former judge of the apex court, Justice RV Ravindran.

Pronouncing the order, a bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana said that the court has chosen renowned experts to be a part of the three-member committee.

Alok Joshi, former IPS officer (1976) batch and Dr. Sandeep Oberoi, Chairman, Sub Committee in International Organisation of Standardisation/ International Electro-Technical Commission/ Joint Technical Committee, will be assisting Justice Ravindran.

The Supreme court has asked the committee to examine the allegations expeditiously and place a report before it. The committee has got time of eight weeks after which the apex court will hear the matter.

“The Committee has been formed to probe the falsity and discover truth in Pegasus row. Right to Privacy violation needs to be examined. There is serious concern of foreign agency involvement by surveilling Indians,” the Supreme Court said. 

The apex court also said that there has been no specific denial by the Centre in the issue and it is therefore, it (Supreme Court) had no option but to accept the submissions of petitioner prima facie and appoint an expert committee whose function will be overseen by the Supreme Court.

The court also said that ample time was given to the Centre to disclose all information regarding the Pegasus. However, only a limited affidavit was filed by them. 

READ ALSO :  UPMRC 2021: Last date to register online for Metro jobs at https://www.lmrcl.com/

“If the Centre had made a clear stand, the burden on us would have been less. The Centre should justify its stand here and not render the court a mute spectator,” the bench said. 

The apex court also said it was initially not satisfied with the writ petitions based on newspaper reports and it usually discourages PILs based on newspaper reports. However, various other petitions have been filed by direct victims. 

“Present batch of writ petitions raise concern. This court has never covered from protecting all from abuse of fundamental rights. Some petitioners are direct victims of attack and some are PIL petitioners,” the bench said, adding that citizens must be protected from violation of privacy. 

The court also said, “There has been no specific denial of any of the facts averred by the Petitioners by the Respondent-Union of India. There has only been an omnibus and vague denial in the “limited affidavit” filed by the Respondent-Union of India, which cannot be sufficient.”

The bench further said, “National security cannot be the bugbear that the judiciary shies away from, by virtue of its mere mentioning.” 

Reading out the order, the CJI said it is undeniable that surveillance and the knowledge that one is under the threat of being spied on can affect the way an individual decides to exercise his or her rights.

first published:Oct. 27, 2021, 11:37 a.m.

Source link