The Supreme Court has agreed to hear next week a petition seeking an independent inquiry into allegations that Israeli spyware Pegasus was used by the central government agencies to spy on politicians, journalists and activists in the country, Bar and Bench reported on Friday.
The petition was filed earlier this week by former editor of The Hindu N Ram and chairperson of the Asian College of Journalism Sashi Kumar.
On Friday, senior advocate Kapil Sibal told the Supreme Court that the matter required urgent hearing. “The civil liberties of citizens, politicians belonging to opposition parties, journalists, court staff have been put under surveillance,” he said, according to Bar and Bench. “This is a issue which is making waves in India and world over.
Chief Justice of India NV Ramana said: “We will hear the matter next week.”
The Pegasus spyware allegations have created a huge political row in India. The Opposition has heavily critcised the government over the matter during the Monsoon Session of the Parliament.
The alleged misuse of the spyware came to light earlier this month when Paris-based media nonprofit Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International accessed a database featuring more than 50,000 phone numbers “concentrated in countries known to engage in surveillance of their citizens”. They shared the list with Indian news website The Wire and 16 other media organisations across the world, who did extensive reporting on the matter. Their investigation is called the Pegasus Project
The India list features over 40 journalists, two Union ministers, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, former Election Commissioner of India Ashok Lavasa and a former Supreme Court staffer who accused former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi of sexual harassment. Industrialist Anil Ambani and former Central Bureau of Investigation Director Alok Verma were also among the potential targets of the spyware.