Don't wish to file detailed affidavit on pleas seeking probe into Pegasus snooping row, Centre tells SC

The Centre told a bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana that it has nothing to hide and that's why the government has on its own said it will constitute a committee of domain experts to look into these allegations
Supreme Court
Supreme Court

New Delhi

The Centre told the Supreme Court on Monday that it does notwish to file a detailed affidavit on a batch of petitions seeking independentprobe into the alleged Pegasus snooping row.

The Centre told a bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana that it has nothingto hide and that's why the government has on its own said it will constitute acommittee of domain experts to look into these allegations.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the bench, also comprising Justices SuryaKant and Hima Kohli, that whether a particular software is used or not by thegovernment is not a matter for public discussion and making this information apart of an affidavit will not be in national interest.

Mehta said the report of the committee of domain experts will be placed beforethe apex court.

The top court told Mehta that it had already made clear that it did not wantthe government to disclose anything which compromises national security.

The hearing in the matter is going on. On September 7, the apex court had grantedmore time to the Centre to decide on filing a further response on the petitionsafter Mehta had said that due to some difficulties he could not meet theofficials concerned to take a decision on the filing of the second affidavit.

The Centre had earlier filed a limited affidavit in the top court saying thepleas seeking an independent probe into the Pegasus snooping allegations arebased on "conjectures and surmises or on other unsubstantiated mediareports or incomplete or uncorroborated material".

It had stated that the position on the issue has already been clarified inParliament by Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw. With a view todispelling any wrong narrative spread by certain vested interests and examiningthe issues raised, the government will constitute a committee of experts, ithad said.

The pleas are related to reports of alleged snooping by government agencies oneminent citizens, politicians and scribes by using Israeli firm NSO's spywarePegasus.

An international media consortium has reported that over 300 verified Indianmobile phone numbers were on the list of potential targets for surveillanceusing Pegasus spyware.

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