The Editors Guild of India has moved the Supreme Court seeking an SIT probe into the alleged Pegasus snooping allegations and also a disclosure from the Centre on the alleged use of spyware for hacking and surveillance between 2017 and 2021. The court will hear the matter on Thursday.
The journalists’ body also sought the issuance of guidelines on surveillance of Indian citizens and safeguarding them from electronic surveillance, spying, and hacking.
The plea said surveillance has a chilling effect on public actors holding the government accountable and also termed it unconstitutional and illegal, as surveillance impedes the free flow of ideas and information. It also wants the judges to seek details from the government on the spyware contract and a list of those targetted.
The plea said: “This has a severely detrimental impact on the ability of politicians and public officials to freely exercise their freedom of profession.”
The plea also urged the top court to declare provisions of the Indian Telegraph Act, and the Information Technology Act, allowing tapping of phones, as unconstitutional, illegal, and void.
Five journalists have also moved the Supreme Court stating the unauthorized use of surveillance by government agencies has violated their fundamental rights and they are directly affected by the use of Pegasus spyware.
The petitioners — Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, S.N.M. Abdi, Prem Shankar Jha, Rupesh Kumar Singh, and Ipsa Shatakshi – urged the top court to issue directions to the Centre to produce and disclose all materials and documents, with respect to all investigation, authorization, and orders pertaining to the use of Pegasus on them. The petitioners alleged they were subjected to deeply intrusive surveillance and hacking by the government or some other third party.
Petitions in the matter have also been filed by advocate M.L. Sharma, CPI-M Rajya Sabha member John Brittas, and senior journalists N. Ram and Sashi Kumar. The top court has scheduled the matter for hearing on August 5.
According to reports by news portal “The Wire”, Congress’s Rahul Gandhi, poll strategist Prashant Kishor, two serving Union Ministers, an ex-Election Commissioner, and 40 journalists were among names in an alleged list of potential targets. More than 142 people in India were on the alleged list.
(With IANS inputs)