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Pegasus row: SC notice to Centre, WB on plea against setting up of Commission of Inquiry by state

The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Centre and West Bengal government to respond to a plea challenging the setting up of a Commission of Inquiry by the state to probe the Pegasus snooping allegations.

Pegasus row: SC notice to Centre, WB on plea against setting up of Commission of Inquiry by state
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New Delhi

A bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana issued notices to them and posted the matter for hearing on August 25. 

Advocate Saurabh Mishra, appearing for the petitioner, told the bench that the Commission of Inquiry should not conduct further proceedings in the interregnum. 

He told the bench, also comprising Justices Surya Kant and Aniruddha Bose, that public notice has been issued by the Commission of Inquiry and proceedings are taking place on a day-to-day basis. 

“We will see, wait”, the bench said and asked him to serve the copy of the petition to the respondents. 

The counsel argued that the petition challenges the notification, issued by the West Bengal government last month appointing a Commission of Inquiry to probe into the snooping allegations, on the ground of jurisdiction. 

“The problem is there is some inconsistency in your affidavit. You say you want inquiry, at the same time you are opposing the Commission of Inquiry,” the bench said, adding, “In your affidavit and in your petition, you must be consistent.” 

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, said he would be assisting the court on Constitutional questions involved in the matter. 

“This is unconstitutional is all I can say,” he told the bench. 

Former Supreme Court judge Justice Madan B Lokur and former chief justice of Calcutta High Court Justice Jyotirmay Bhattacharya are the members of the Commission of Inquiry announced by the West Bengal government last month. 

An international media consortium has reported that over 300 verified Indian mobile phone numbers were on the list of potential targets for surveillance using Pegasus spyware. 

The apex court had on Tuesday issued notice to the Centre on a batch of pleas seeking independent probe into the alleged Pegasus snooping matter, making it clear that it did not want the government to disclose anything which compromises national security. 

The top court was hearing a batch of pleas, including the one filed by Editors Guild of India, seeking independent probe into the snooping allegations. 

They are related to reports of alleged snooping by government agencies on eminent citizens, politicians and scribes by using Israeli firm NSO's spyware Pegasus.

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