The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear on Thursday a batch of petitions, including those filed by the Editors Guild of India and senior journalists N Ram and Sashi Kumar, seeking an independent probe into the alleged Pegasus snooping matter.
As per the cause list uploaded on the court’s website, a bench comprising Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justice Surya Kant will hear nine separate pleas on the issue related to reports of alleged snooping by government agencies on eminent citizens, politicians and journalists by using Israeli firm NSO’s spyware Pegasus.
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.
Editors Guild of India has sought in its plea that a special investigation team (SIT) be set up to conduct a probe into the reported surveillance of journalists and others.
The guild’s petition, in which veteran journalist Mrinal Pande is also one of the petitioner, has said that its members and all journalists have the duty of holding all branches of government accountable by seeking information, explanations and constitutionally valid justifications for state action and inaction.
The court would also hear a separate plea filed by senior journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, whose name featured in the reported list of those who were targets of alleged snooping using Pegasus, seeking directions to the Centre to disclose materials with respect to investigation and authorisation pertaining to the purported use of Israeli spyware on his mobile.
Mr Thakurta, who has said in his plea that the existence of Pegasus will have a “tremendous chilling effect” on the right to free speech in India, has urged the court to declare that use of malware or spyware is illegal and unconstitutional.