The Supreme Court (SC) has agreed to hear a plea that sought an independent probe into the Pegasus spyware controversy that has been making headlines since the last few weeks.
The petition was filed by veteran journalists N Ram and Sashi Kumar. Their counsel, Kapil Sibal said that the Pegasus issue has been making waves in India as well as across the world and it needs to be heard in view of the large ramifications of the alleged snooping.
“Civil liberties of citizens, politicians belonging to opposition parties, journalists, court staff have been put under surveillance,” Sibal told a SC bench led by N V Ramana.
The SC has agreed to hear the plea next week.
According to a report by The Wire, names of several opposition leaders including Rahul Gandhi, activists and 40 Indian journalists appeared on the leaked list of potential targets for surveillance by an unidentified agency using Pegasus spyware.
Meanwhile, the central government has been denying all the allegations leveled against them.
The petitioners claimed that probes involving several leading publications around the world have revealed that more than 142 Indians, including journalists, lawyers, ministers, opposition politicians, and activists, have been identified as potential targets for surveillance using Pegasus spyware.
Security Lab of Amnesty International, which conducted forensic analysis on several mobile phones belonging to the targeted people, has confirmed Pegasus-induced security breaches.
“The targeted surveillance using military-grade spyware is an unacceptable violation of the right to privacy which has been held to be a fundamental right under Articles 14 (equality before the law), 19 (freedom of speech and expression) and 21 (protection of life and personal liberty) by the Supreme Court,” it added.
Further, the petition said that 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 under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.