The Supreme Court of India on August 5 asked the petitioners in the Pegasus Project report case to serve copies of their petitions to the Centre. The Court listed the matter for further hearing on August 10, legal news website Live Law reported.
"Somebody should appear for the government to take notice," Chief Justice of India NV Ramana said during the hearing.
While no notice was issued in the case, the Court observed that “the allegations are serious if the media reports correct”. The CJI also asked the petitioners why wasn't an FIR lodged if the phones were hacked.
"Truth has to come out, that is a different story," the CJI said
The bench comprising CJI Ramana and Justice Surya Kant was hearing a batch of petitions regarding the alleged potential targeting of activists, politicians, and journalists using the Israeli firm NSO's spyware Pegasus.
An international media consortium, with Indian news website The Wire its part, has reported that over 300 verified Indian mobile phone numbers were on the list of potential targets for surveillance using Pegasus spyware.
READ: In-Depth | Pegasus spyware scandal and growing chorus to regulate private surveillance
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal appearing for journalist N Ram others said this spyware is only sold to government agencies and can't be sold to private entities. “NSO technology is involved in the international arena,” he said.
Sibal argued that journalists, public figures, constitutional authorities, court officers, academicians all are targeted by spyware. “The government had to answer who purchased it? Where was the hardware placed? Why did not the government register FIR?, he added
Ever since Monsoon Session started on July 19, the business of both the Houses of the Parliament has been majorly disrupted due to the continuous ruckus by the Opposition over issues including Pegasus spyware, farm reforms laws, COVID-19, and price rise.
Both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha have failed to transact any significant business, except the passage of some bills due to the continued protests.
Also, read Parliament Monsoon Session: Opposition blames Centre for deadlock, seeks debate on Pegasus in both Houses
The Opposition has been demanding a discussion and an independent inquiry led by a Supreme Court judge - serving or retired - into reports that Israeli spyware was used to hack phones of opposition leaders, judges, activists, journalists, and ministers.
The government has dismissed the demand, saying a statement by Union IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnav in Rajya Sabha was sufficient. The BJP has termed the Pegasus snooping allegations a "non-issue".As many as 18 Opposition leaders representing 13 political parties issued a joint statement on August 4 demanding an informed debate on the Pegasus Project report
in both Houses of Parliament with a reply by Home Minister Amit Shah.