Centre informs Supreme Court- ‘Won’t file a detailed affidavit about Pegasus’

The Pegasus Controversy LAW INSIDER

Shivangi Prakash-

Published on: September 13, 2021 at 15:51 IST

The Government asserted on Monday that it “had nothing to hide,” but cited national security concerns in declining to file a full affidavit in response to repeated petitions requesting a formal investigation into the Pegasus spyware affair.

Tushar Mehta, the Solicitor General, informed the Court “Statements on this issue cannot be made through affidavits and filing and then making it part of public discourse is not possible”.

The Supreme Court remarked that the Government was only asked to answer to charges of phone hacking of individuals, including opposition leaders like Rahul Gandhi, significant businessman like Anil Ambani, and journalists and activists critical of the current administration.

“Last time also national security arose and we clarified nobody is going to intervene in a way that affects national security. We asked you there are claims of individual phones being hacked… so file your affidavit on whether it was authorised,” Justice Surya Kant said.

 The Court had given the Government a month to produce the affidavit, stating that it did not want the Government to reveal anything that could jeopardize national security.

“We are only concerned with issues of phones of individuals (being) hacked. Which agency has powers and whether it authorised or not.There are individuals saying their right to privacy has been violated,” Justice Surya Kant stressed today.

That aspect was emphasized by senior lawyer Kapil Sibal, who was representing two of the petitioners, journalist N Ram and the Editors Guild of India, saying “This is about privacy of individuals“.

“All we want to know is whether Pegasus was used, we don’t want to hamper national security. This is about the privacy of individuals. If Pegasus was used, and ordinary citizens targeted, then its very serious,” Sibal said.

The Government had previously filed a limited affidavit alleging that petitions requesting an independent investigation into the snooping accusations were based on “Conjectures and surmises or other unverified media reports or incomplete or uncorroborated data,” according to the Government.

That petition cited IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw’s remark in Parliament, in which he asserted “checks and balances” in the Indian judicial and executive systems prevented such unlawful acts (his phone was also purportedly hacked, but before he joined the BJP).

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