On the 13th of September 2021, the Supreme Court Bench comprising Chief Justice N V Ramana, Justice Surya Kant and Justice Hima Kohli heard the Pegasus batch of petitions that had come up before the bench. The matter had been adjourned on the last date of hearing on the request of the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.
Hearing today commenced with the Solicitor General informing the Court that the Central Government had decided to constitute a committee of domain experts to inquire into the matter. It was informed that the said committee would be independent of the Government and that it would constitute people who were not remotely connected to the Government. It was further submitted that the committee would have the power to inquire into individual complaints of infiltration that have been alleged and that the report of the committee would be placed directly before the Court.
It was submitted by the Solicitor that the Government takes the privacy of its citizens seriously and that the constitution of a committee by the Government was in furtherance of this concern for citizens’ privacy and rights.
Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal began his submission referring to the judgment of the Supreme Court in Ram Jethmalani v. Union of India (2011) wherein it was held that the primary duty of the Government is to safeguard the rights of its citizens. In the light of this judgment Mr Sibal states that the dereliction on the part of the Government to disclose information to even the Supreme Court amounts to a violation of the responsibility and duty that the Government owes to its citizens.
“Yesterday Germany said that Pegasus was used for terrorism in Germany. Why can’t India do the same? Denial of these incidents show that the Government has in fact used Pegasus against its citizens” submitted Mr. Sibal.
More arguments were advanced by Senior Advocates Shyam Divan, Dinesh Dwivedi, Rakesh Dwivedi and Meenakshi Aurora on similar grounds raised by Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal. Ms. Aurora further requested the Court to constitute a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to inquire into the allegations.
Advocate M L Sharma submitted that his phone had been infiltrated by the Government and that incriminating evidence had been implanted to implicate him for the crimes he didn’t commit.
After hearing all counsels the bench reserved the interim-order in the case. The Solicitor General has been given the opportunity to add anything by way of mentioning in Court within 2-3 days.