Whether Pegasus was used or not, can't be put in affidavit: Centre to SC
New Delhi, September 13, 2021
The Centre on Monday, citing national security reasons, told the Supreme Court it did not wish to file a detailed affidavit clarifying whether Pegasus spyware was used or not as it responded to a batch of petitions seeking an independent probe into the alleged Pegasus snooping.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, submitted before a bench headed by Chief Justice N. V. Ramana that the government would disclose all details in connection with the Pegasus case before a panel of domain experts but not on an affidavit for national security reasons.
Mehta emphasized that there are terror organizations, which better not know which software is used to combat terror etc. "It has its own pitfalls," he added.
The Centre reiterated that it has "nothing to hide" and emphasized that the government had, on its own said it would constitute a committee of domain experts, who are not connected with the government, to examine spying allegations.
"Such issues of whether Centre was using Pegasus or not cannot be debated in affidavits and can be looked into by domain experts," he added.
Mehta told the bench that also comprised Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli, that whether a particular software is used or not by the government cannot be brought out in public domain for a discussion, and the panel of independent experts can place their report before the top court.
As the bench pointed out to Mehta that it had given him time so that the government could file an affidavit in the matter, he said, "Such issues cannot be brought on an affidavit."
The bench emphasized that it had already clarified that it does not want government to disclose anything which compromises national security. The bench observed, "We were only expecting a limited affidavit since there are petitioners before us who say their rights have been infringed upon. You had to say whether it's done lawfully or unlawfully."
The hearing is still in progress.
The top court on September 7 granted time to the Centre to decide on filing a further response on the petitions. Mehta had informed the top court that due to some difficulties he could not meet the officials concerned to take a decision on the filing of the second affidavit.