Supreme Court move to set up a panel to probe Pegasus is a vital and welcome step

What is the News?

The Supreme Court has observed orally that it will set up a technical expert committee to inquire into the Pegasus snooping matter and pass an interim order next week.

Background

A collaborative journalism enterprise reported by The Wire in India has revealed that pegasus spyware developed by Israeli firm NSO Group is being used to snoop on politicians, journalists, civil liberties activists in India.

Must read: Pegasus spyware issue – Explained, pointwise

On this, a petition was filed in the Supreme Court seeking a Special Investigation Team (SIT) into reports of the government using Israeli software Pegasus to spy on critics and journalists.

Based on this petition, the ​​ Supreme Court asked the Centre to file an affidavit on whether the Pegasus software was used to allegedly spy on Indian personalities and if it was done lawfully.

However, the government expressed its unwillingness to file a detailed affidavit, citing national security. It had offered to set up a panel of experts to look into the allegations and submit a report to the court.

What was the Supreme Court response to this?

The Supreme Court has observed that there are serious concerns raised by journalists and others over violation of privacy in the Pegasus row.

Hence, it would set up a committee of experts to study the allegations of illegal surveillance using Pegasus spyware.

Significance of this judgement

The Supreme Court has been the custodian of personal freedoms and has been an alert watchdog whenever the executive and legislature have transgressed the red lines that separate the state’s authority from the domain of individual rights including the right to privacy. 

Hence, the court has rightly recognised that the likes of Pegasus pose a threat to core values of democracy as well as the autonomy and credibility of institutions and processes. 

Source: This post is based on the following article

  • “Supreme Court move to set up a panel to probe Pegasus is a vital and welcome step published in Indian Express on 24th September 2021.
  • Pegasus controversy: SC to set up probe panel, give formal order next week” published in Business Standard on 24th September 2021.
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