The Supreme Court, which is set to issue interim orders to the central government on the Pegasus spyware issue, has reserved its judgment. CJI NV Ramana said that they would issue interim orders to the central government in a couple of days after it told the SC today that it does not want to file an affidavit on the use of Pegasus spyware, cites national security.
The CJI suggested that the tribunal could be told if the Central government had reconsidered its decision. On Monday, the Pegasus spyware issue was heard in the Supreme Court. A bench comprising Chief Justice NV Ramana, Justice Suryakant and Justice Himakohli heard the case against Pegasus. The Solicitor General (SG) heard arguments on behalf of the Central Government.
The Solicitor General told the court that the central government was ready to set up an expert committee on spyware. SG said the Center was of the view that it was not appropriate to discuss national security issues and that an independent committee would look into the matter and report back. Speaking on the occasion, CJI NV Ramana said that they were not going into national security and were only investigating petitions filed by journalists, social activists and others to protect their rights.
“Has the government used any spyware software?”, asked CJI NV Ramana. Responding to this, the Solicitor General said that the IT Minister had given an explanation in the Lok Sabha on the issue of spyware. However, the CJI pointed out that appointing a committee on spyware and conducting an inquiry is not the issue here and if the affidavit is filed with full details, the government stand will be known. The CJI referred to the statement made by former Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Pegasus in 2019.
The CJI opined that the Center had already been given a lot of opportunities but it did not seem willing to file an affidavit.
However, the Solicitor General once again told the court that he was ready to set up an expert committee on spyware.
In response, the CJI said that it had given time in the last hearing that an affidavit would be filed, but that you(The central government were speaking differently.
As the Central government is reluctant to file an affidavit, SC orders to issue interim orders to it. Kapil Sibal, Shyam Diwan, Rakesh Dwivedi and Dinesh Dwivedi appeared for the petitioners in the case.