Won’t file detailed affidavit on Pegasus row: Govt to SC

New Delhi:  The Centre on Monday told the Supreme Court that it doesn’t wish to file a detailed affidavit on a batch of petitions seeking independent probe into the alleged Pegasus snooping row, while citing national security concerns .

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, told a bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana that it has nothing to hide and that is why it has on its own said it will constitute panel of domain experts.

“Whether particular software was used or not is not a matter for public discussion,” Mehta told the bench also comprising Justices Surya Kant and Aniruddha Bose.

The Solicitor General further told the three-judge bench that report of committee of domain experts will be made available to it.

The top court reserved its judgment on the petitions. The order will be pronounced in two to three days.

Last month, the Centre had filed a limited affidavit in the apex court saying that the pleas are based on “conjectures, surmises” and unsubstantiated media reports and a group of experts will examine all issues raised.

It had “unequivocally” denied all allegations made against it by petitioners led by journalist N Ram about using military grade spyware to snoop on journalists, politicians, activists and court staff.

In a two-page affidavit filed before the SC, the government had said its position on the alleged Pegasus snooping has already been clarified in Parliament by IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw.

The top court had earlier issued notice to the Centre on the pleas, making it clear that it did not want the government to disclose anything which compromises national security.

An international media consortium has reported that more than 300 verified mobile phone numbers, including of two current ministers, over 40 journalists, three opposition leaders and one sitting judge besides scores of businesspersons and activists in India could have been allegedly targeted for hacking through Israeli Pegasus spyware sold only to government agencies.

Earlier, the apex court had said that allegations of Pegasus related snooping are “serious in nature” if reports on them are correct.

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