New Delhi: The Supreme Court handed down the Modi government a serious drubbing by ordering the constitution of an independent expert committee to look into the allegations of widespread and targeted surveillance of politicians, journalists, activist etc using the Pegasus spyware.
The committee will be supervised by its retired judge Justice R V Raveendran and assisted by Alok Joshi, former IPS officer (1976 batch) and Sundeep Oberoi, Chairman, Sub Committee in (International Organisation of Standardisation/International Electro-Technical Commission/Joint Technical Committee).
The three technical members of the committee are Naveen Kumar Chaudhary, Professor (Cyber Security and Digital Forensics) and Dean, National Forensic Sciences University, Gandhinagar, Gujarat; Prabaharan P, Professor (School of Engineering), Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Amritapuri, Kerala; and Ashwin Anil Gumaste, Institute Chair Associate Professor (Computer Science and Engineering), Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, Maharashtra.
The court said national security cannot be the bugbear that the judiciary shies away from, by virtue of its mere mentioning. Although this court should be circumspect in encroaching the domain of national security, no omnibus prohibition can be called for against judicial review, the judgment, delivered by a bench headed by Chief Justice M V Ramana, said.
“We gave ample opportunity to the government to give details of all (the) action taken by it. But despite repeated chances they gave an affidavit that does not give clarity. If they had clarified they would have reduced the burden on us,” the court said.
The court noted vague denial from the government is not sufficient and hence the allegations need to be probed. That is why it was appointing an expert committee to be supervised by a retired judge of Supreme Court.
The court said privacy is not just for journalists and politicians but also about rights of individuals. @All decisions should be under Constitutional process.”