At that hearing, the petitioner opposed parallel inquiries, while the West Bengal government stated that the Supreme Court should not hear a petitioner whose motives are not clear.
“In all fairness, we expect you can wait,” said Chief Justice of India NV Ramana upon hearing the petition contesting the establishment of a judicial body by the West Bengal government to accept the allegations related to Pegasus investigate, LiveLaw tweeted. The Supreme Court of India has also decided to merge the petition with other petitions on Pegasus that will be dealt with next week.
– Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) August 25, 2021
An investigation until Pegasus project, a consortium of 17 news organizations led by Forbidden stories and Amnesty International, revealed that more than 50,000 phone numbers have been identified as either targets or potential targets for Pegasus spyware developed by NSO Group. Those numbers included journalists, politicians, activists, bureaucrats, heads of state, among others. The group, however responded that the spyware is only sold to verified governments and their authorities in order to neutralize terrorists and criminals.
The Government of India did not order an investigation into the Pegasus spyware surveillance, despite the alleged surveillance causing several violations of the law. In addition, the center has neither Confirmed nor denied the purchase or use of the spyware. The investigation ordered by the government of West Bengal was the only investigation ordered by a government in India. The state government cited the inactivity of the center as one of the reasons for the establishment of the Justice Commission.
What was discussed in the hearing?
LiveLaw reported that the petitioner (Global Village Foundation) from Senior Advocate Harish Salve and the respondent (Government of West Bengal) from Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi was represented.
Arguments of the applicant
- The Harish Salve submission argued that a “parallel investigation” cannot take place once the Supreme Court is examining the matter.
- He asserted that the notification was outside the competence of the state government, as issues relating to the Information Technology Act fell within the competence of the Union government.
- He urged the bank to ensure that the Commission does not proceed with its proceedings after requesting information from the public.
Response from the WB government
- Dr. Singhvi questioned the petitioner’s location
- He claimed the NGO had political connections.
- He claimed that the bank should not listen to an NGO whose motives are not clear and should stay away from a legal order.
- Singhvi stated, “Nothing earth-shattering will happen between now and next week. Every word of your lordships will cause a sensation. ”
Observations of the bank consisting of CJI NV Ramana and Justice Surya Kant
- The petition will have meaning as it was linked to other petitions and Judge Surya Kant added that the petition will have an “all-India impact”.
- It expected the WB government to “show restraint” and wait before proceeding with the judicial investigation.
- CJI warned Dr. AM Singhvi that the SC will be forced to issue an order due to repeated requests not to issue an order.
- They did not order the commission to be suspended after Dr. AM Singhvi had assured the SC that his instructions would be forwarded to the state government.
- The bank will be submitting a full order next week.
What happened at the first hearing?
- Attorney General Tushar Mehta called the investigation unconstitutional in his prima facie observation
- The NGO’s lawyer, Saurabh Mishra, argued at the time that the SC should suspend the Commission’s negotiations “to avoid parallel investigations” as it was envisaged that a panel of experts would investigate all aspects of the Pegasus controversy in a number of others Petitions.
- However, the court refused to suspend the panel’s investigation after Judge Surya Kant noted that the commission was only taking “preparatory steps”.
- The Supervisory Committee then issued communications to the governments of the Union and the WB asking them to respond to the petition.
A brief recap of the retired judges led by Lokur Commission
The Mamata Banerjee-run government constituted as judicial body in a release dated July 27, 2021 to conduct an investigation into the Pegasus snooping scandal Reports in The Wire with the indication of the electoral strategist’s cell phone Prashant Kishor was hacked with Pegasus. He was responsible for developing the strategy of the Trinamool Congress in the 2021 general election. The report added that West Bengal’s chief minister, Mamata Banerjee, Nephew of Abhishek Banerjees Telephone number was also “selected as a potential snoop target”.
The two-person commission of inquiry included the retired SC Justice Madan Lokur and retired chairman of the Calcutta Supreme Court Jyotirmoy Bhattacharya.
Mamta Banerjee said she constituted the commission “in the exercise of the Section 3 Investigation Commission Act, 1952“In a press conference.
She said that the Commission’s job will be:
- Identify who hacked into the phones of the citizens of West Bengal
- Investigate how this illegal operation is carried out
- Check how the language is stifled
The commission went on to: a public notice on August 5th inviting statements with information about Pegasus to be submitted within 30 days. The announcement was published in several mainstream newspapers in English and local languages.
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