Stating that the Centre can’t get a free pass every time by stating “national security”, the Supreme Court on 27 October appointed an external committee to investigate the allegations of unauthorised use of the Pegasus spyware on citizens.
After weeks of back and forth between the Centre, the petitioners, and the court on Pegasus, the apex court sharply noted in its order that the “vague denial from the government is not sufficient”, and that it had no option but to set up a panel to examine the allegations made by the petitioners.
The court's stern observations on the issue comes after hearing a clutch of petitions, which requested a probe into the allegations of the Centre’s use of the spyware on over 142 Indian citizens.
The revelations regarding the use of spyware were made after a consortium of media organisations around the world reported in July, the use of the spyware on prominent politicians like Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, 40 Indian journalists, and several private citizens.
However, the Centre has to date refused to take a clear stand on whether it has purchased or used the spyware.
And given the Centre’s stonewalling on this issue, how significant are the observations made by the court? Will an expert committee be able to unearth the answers that the court has been unable to do so thus far? What powers will this committee have?
Joining me today to discuss the significance of the order and also what functions the expert committee will possess is Apar Gupta, the Executive Director of the Internet Freedom Foundation, and Gunjal Chawla, Programme Manager of Technology & National Security at the Centre for Communication Governance at NLU Delhi. Tune in!