The Supreme Court on Thursday posed a pointed query to a battery of senior advocates, appearing for various petitioners seeking court-monitored probe into Pegasus snooping allegations. The court said, the surveillance issue came into light two years ago, why come now suddenly, and why no complaint or FIR was registered? However, the top court agreed to hear the petitioners next week and asked them to serve the copies on the Union of India.
Several senior advocates like Kapil Sibal, Shyam Divan, C.U. Singh, Meenakshi Arora, Rakesh Dwivedi, and Arvind Datar appeared for petitioners who had moved the top court citing Pegasus snooping allegations a national security issue, breach of privacy, and urged the court to take cognizance of this matter.
A bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana and Surya Kant asked, “No doubt allegations are serious if reports in newspapers are correct. The majority of petitions rely on foreign newspapers, but where is the verifiable material for us to order an inquiry? The surveillance issue came to light two years ago, in May 2019. Don’t know why there was no serious effort to raise the issue, why come now suddenly?”
Sibal, representing veteran journalist N. Ram, submitted, “we have no direct access to the information; therefore, we ask the government to tell us the fact — who bought it and where was the hardware-based. Why did the government keep quiet, why they did not take action? This technology cannot be used in India. This is a matter of national security”, said Sibal.
Justice Ramana replied why suddenly come after two years? In 2019, it was reported WhatsApp was misused. “Truth has to come out, we don’t know whose names are there”, he noted during hearing.
Chief Justice asked Arora if you know your phone was hacked, why didn’t you file an FIR?
He added that all petitioners are educated and knowledgeable, they should have made efforts to collect more verifiable material, other than news reports, and we do not say newspaper reports are non-believable.
Concluding the hearing, Chief Justice said somebody should appear from the government of India to accept notice and listed the matter for further hearing on Tuesday. The bench also asked petitioners to serve copies of petitions on the Centre.