The Supreme Court of India has initiated an inquiry into Pegasus spyware used by the government of India. In its judgment, the court said “vague denial from the government is not sufficient”. Israel-built spyware, Pegasus, rattled the world when an explosive story accused multiple governments of misusing the spyware to muzzle protests and snoop on activists and journalists.
Ever since the first expose, countries like France started looking into the matter, ultimately leading to a Pegasus ban in the country. Since then, there has been a debate on whether the Indian government bought and used Pegasus. Now, after much debate, India has also started a supreme court inquiry in Pegasus. This is among the major Pegasus updates so far.
No “Free Pass”
Chief Justice NV Ramana read the judgment initiating a Supreme Court inquiry into Pegasus use by the Indian government. The inquiry will be headed by retired Supreme Court Justice RV Ravindran. Justice Ravindran will be assisted by an IPS officer, along with students from the National Forensic University. The committee is to investigate Pegasus use and report to the court in the next 2 months.
The court also criticized the Indian government for its cooperation on the issue. It said a “vague denial from the government is not sufficient,” and also quashed the government’s request to set up an expert panel to look into the issue.
In a strong-worded statement, the Chief Justice said “In today’s world, restrictions on privacy is to prevent terrorist activity and can only be imposed when needed to protect national security. But the state cannot get a free pass every time by raising national security concerns. National security cannot be the bugbear that the judiciary shies away from, by virtue of its mere mentioning.”
While the court is cautious in encroaching on national security, it cannot be a “mute spectator”. The Chief Justice added that the “Centre should have justified its stand here and not rendered the court a mute spectator.”