Home / News / India /  Pegasus hearing: Centre didn't cooperate with probe, says Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Thursday said that the central government did not cooperate with the investigation into the Pegasus spyware cases. Further SC-appointed probe panel found some kind of malware in 5 phones out of 29 examined by technical committee.  There was inclusive evidence on the presence of Pegasus spyware in any of the 29 phones scanned by the Pegasus panel, Some malware were found in five phones but nothing conclusive to show it was Pegasus, the court said.

A bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana said the panel has submitted its “lengthy" report in three parts and one part suggested amending the law to protect the right to privacy of citizens and ensure cyber security of the nation.

It said the report of the overseeing judge (Justice retired) R V Raveendran, which is general in nature, would be uploaded on its website. The bench said it would consider the plea to give redacted part of other reports to the parties.

The bench on October 27 last year had ordered a probe into the allegations of use of Israeli spyware by government agencies for targeted surveillance of politicians, journalists, and activists. 

Several pleas were filed before the top court on snooping row by senior journalists N Ram, and Sashi Kumar, Rajya Sabha MP John Brittas of Communist Marxist Party of India (Marxist) and advocate ML Sharma, former Union minister Yashwant Sinha, RSS ideologue KN Govindacharya.

Journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, SNM Abdi, Prem Shankar Jha, Rupesh Kumar Singh and Ipsa Shatakshi, who are reported to be on the potential list of snoop targets of Pegasus spyware, had also approached the top court along with The Editors Guild of India (EGI) among others.

The panel, which included three experts on cyber security, digital forensics, networks, and hardware, was asked to “inquire, investigate and determine" whether Pegasus spyware was used for snooping on citizens and their probe would be monitored by a former apex court judge Raveendran.

The panel members were Naveen Kumar Chaudhary, Prabaharan P, and Ashwin Anil Gumaste. 

Pegasus is spyware developed by the Israeli cyber-arms company NSO Group that allows operators to stealthily invade a target's mobile device, giving them access to contacts, messages and movement history. NSO has been connected to a number of scandals resulting from alleged misuse by customers of its flagship Pegasus phone surveillance software.

Critics, including human rights groups and outside researchers, say customers have abused Pegasus to keep tabs on journalists, rights activists and political dissidents.

The court will now hear the matter after four weeks.

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