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Pegasus snooping: Supreme Court to hear pleas demanding probe on August 5

As per a 'leaked' database, the Israeli spyware allegedly spied upon over 40 journalists, three major opposition leaders, two serving ministers among others.

Pegasus snooping: Supreme Court to hear pleas demanding probe on August 5-dnm
New Delhi, First Published Aug 1, 2021, 11:38 AM IST

New Delhi: The Supreme Court will hear a bunch of petitions seeking a court-monitored probe into the alleged Pegasus snooping charges on August 5.  

The plea filed in the top court seeks an independent Court-monitored probe into the Pegasus report, which has caused a political uproar that has largely rendered the ongoing Monsoon session of Parliament a washout.

A two-member bench, headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana, will hear the petitions. Justice Surya Kant is the second judge on the bench.

Senior journalists N Ram and Sashi Kumar, CPM MP John Brittas and advocate ML Sharma have petitioned the top court to direct the government to disclose whether it has obtained a licence for the spyware or used it - directly or indirectly - to conduct surveillance of any kind.

They have also alleged that snooping represented an attempt by agencies and organisations to muzzle the exercise of free speech and expression of dissent in India.

An international media consortium has reported that over 300 verified Indian mobile phone numbers were on a list of potential targets for surveillance using Israeli firm NSO's Pegasus spyware. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, ace poll strategist Prashant Kishor, two serving Union Ministers, ex-Election Commissioner, 40 journalists among others were found to be on alleged leaked list of potential targets.

The forensic analysis of several mobile phones, according to the petitioners, belonging to people listed as potential targets by the Security Lab of Amnesty International have confirmed security breaches.

The hacking of phones belonging to journalists, doctors, lawyers, activists, ministers and opposition politicians “seriously compromises” the effective exercise of the fundamental right to free speech and expression, the petition said.

Such an act has an obvious chilling effect on expression by threatening invasion into the most core and private aspects of a person's life, it added.

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