State Attorney General Tushar mehta He explained the situation of the Center by filing an affidavit and consequently putting in the public domain details of the software used by government agencies to intercept communications between “enemies of India” and terrorist organizations with their sleeper cells.
This was the basis for his brief affidavit filed by the Center on August 17, the day the CV issued a notification to the Center requesting a detailed response. The Secretary General requested time again on September 7 to allow the Center to decide whether or not to present said affidavit.
When he continued to insist on the government’s effectiveness in establishing a technical committee made up of experts in the domain, who have no ties of any kind with the government, to examine the issue, a bench of the president of the Supreme Court NV Ramana and Judges Surya Kant and Hima Kohli said: “We think the government will present an affidavit and depending on that we will decide how to go further. Now, they have made a statement. We will consider what interim order or any order we should approve.”
The CJI-led bank said: “After all, it is their prerogative (whether to file a detailed affidavit or not). We think that if an affidavit is filed, we can take a call and decide what kind of investigation we can order. Now , we have to take into account the whole problem and do something. ”
As the SG reiterated the government’s position and said: “The government’s position on the matter is clear.” CJI Ramana said, “Lord Mehta, beating around the bush is not the problem.” The SG countered him by saying: “Suppose the government says it never used Pegasus, are they (the dozen PIL applicants) going to withdraw their requests? The answer is no. Someone has to look into it. That’s why I say someone (committee technician created by the government) has to be integrated under the supervision of the SC “.
The court reserved its decision on the nature of the interim order it would approve, but kept the window open for the government to enter an affidavit at the last minute. “We will pass some orders. It will take us two or three days to prepare the interim order. If you have any reconsideration, you can let us know,” the bank told Mehta.
Appearing before the petitioners, lead attorney Kapil Sibal said the court should not tolerate the government’s audacity in refusing to release information about the use of Pegasus to snoop on citizens in a blatant violation of their right to privacy, which the court ruled that it is part of the right to life.
“The Center appears to have used Pegasus. That is why it has not taken any action against the Israeli manufacturer NSO or any of the agencies that have used it. Nor has it registered any FIRs to investigate it despite admitting knowledge about the use of Pegasus while responding to a question in Parliament, “Sibal said and asked the court that, if a committee of technical experts was created, it should be made up of the court and not the government.
Sibal’s arguments were supplemented by a number of high-level advocates: Shyam Divan, Dinesh Dwivedi, Rakesh Dwivedi, Meenakshi Arora and Colin Gonsalves. The majority said that the committee should be made up of experts chosen by the CS and not by the government.
The SG said that although it is the custom of the petitioners, the government cannot sensationalize the issues involved. “There would be a marginal line of distinction between protecting the privacy of citizens, which is the government’s priority, and entering an area that could compromise national security. There is a legal regime and interception per se is not illegal. One petitioner cites to two experts to say that this (Pegasus) is a very dangerous technology. It is a dangerous technology. All technologies have their own harmful effects. They can be used and abused. ”
“Let the domain experts go through all these technical issues to find out if the petitioners are right or wrong. Let the petitioners present their phones for the committee to examine to find out if they got spied on by spyware. There’s no question of hesitating. of the credibility of the committee appointed by the government. It is a guarantee on my part to the court that the experts in the domain will not have any relationship with the government, directly or indirectly, nor any employment relationship with the government. Your report will finally be presented before the Supreme Court. We have nothing to hide. But a facade is created that the government is not telling the truth to the court, the government is hiding something, “he said.
“There are sensitive issues involved where certain things are not recorded by affidavit. But, respecting the privacy of citizens, the government alone is offering to allow issues to be examined and reports to be filed with the CS. . The committee will answer to the court. We cannot afford to have a committee that cannot withstand the judicial scrutiny of the CS. This is the answer to the doubts expressed about the credibility of the committee, “Mehta said.
“(Petitioner’s) insistence that it should be put into the public domain would cause irreparable harm to national security. If the government says it is not using a particular software, it will alert potential terrorist groups. If the government says it is are using, there will be different consequences. Each technology has its counter technology to protect its system from being scrutinized by law enforcement agencies. Instead of the petitioner insisting on an affidavit to put everything in the public domain, I am requesting a technical committee “said SG. .
Punctuated by the government’s repeated assertions about its clear intentions, the CJI said: “You are repeatedly saying that you do not want to put anything (related to national security) in the public domain. We are not interested in that either. We have left it very Of course. The petitioners are also not interested in knowing anything about the national security and interests of the country. Even if they insist, we will not accommodate such requests. The question is, even assuming for a minute, a designated committee of experts, that it looks at the issues and makes a report to the court. When the report is filed with the court, that day will go into the public domain. ”
The SG said that the SC will decide whether the report should be in the public domain or not. “It certainly can go into the public domain, if the SC so decides,” he said.