India

Center refuses affidavit in custody case

Interim order of the Supreme Court in two-three days

The Supreme Court on Monday passed an interim order in the case after the central government refused to file a detailed affidavit alleging its use of Israeli “Pegasus spyware” to monitor citizens. An interim order will be issued on petitions seeking an independent inquiry into alleged surveillance of political leaders, journalists and other key figures by Pegasus Spyware, the Supreme Court said in a hearing on Monday.

We are retaining orders. An interim order will be issued in this case. It will take two to three days. Explain whether you are going to file a detailed affidavit. If the government reconsiders giving a detailed affidavit, the matter will be heard, said Chief Justice N.S. V. Raman explained. The central government has been accused of illegally using Pegasus spyware to monitor citizens. So all we wanted to know was whether the Center did that or not. “We did not want to know about issues related to national security,” said a bench headed by Chief Justice Raman comprising Justice Suryakant and Justice Hima Kohli.

The government is now being told not to file any affidavit in this regard. But we have not forced the government to disclose security secrets. The government has said it will set up a committee and submit a report, but will issue an interim order, the court said.

The apex court had given the Center a deadline of September 7 to file a detailed affidavit. Advocate General Tushar Mehta had testified in court to file a detailed affidavit. But the Center has refused to submit an affidavit changing its role.

The petitions filed in the case in the Supreme Court have called for an independent inquiry into the matter. But this demand is based on fictitious information. In Parliament, Information and Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnav had clarified the government’s position on the issue, according to an earlier affidavit submitted by the Center.

Court hearings

Advocate General Tushar Mehta: It is not possible to file an affidavit in this case and make it public, as it will affect national security. We cannot tell the terrorists what computer system they used.

Chief Justice Raman: No, Mr. Mehta (Advocate General) We wanted an affidavit at the last hearing. That’s why we gave you time, but now you are saying this… we are going back again and again. We say again, don’t tell the court anything about national security, but the question is, as citizens say, their telephones have been tapped.

Chief Justice Raman: Now we have to do something. Mr. Mehta, do you have anything left to say now? Advocate General Tushar Mehta: No.

Chief Justice Raman: Washing the bushes will not solve the problem. Let’s see what we want to order now.

Justice Suryakant: Even last time we had made it clear that no one would interfere in this matter in any way that would affect national security. Many have claimed that private phones were hacked. But which organization has the authority to do so? And is this type legal or illegal?

Advocate General Tushar Mehta: If some people are saying that their privacy rights have been violated, it is serious. We want to investigate it. We will also set up a committee of experts for this.

Court: There is no question of appointing a committee. The purpose of the affidavit was to know the role of the government in this matter. Moreover, it is difficult to say whether the phone was hacked without a technical analysis of the mobile phone, the Information-Technology Minister himself had said in Parliament.

What did the Supreme Court say?

‘The procedure established by law also allows for intervention in a case. The court wanted an affidavit to know the role of the government.

If the government used spyware for surveillance, was it legal or not? That’s all we wanted to know.

What did the central government say?

The government does not want to file a detailed affidavit in this regard. Because the issue of whether or not the government used this spyware cannot be a public debate. It would not be in the interest of the country to include it in the affidavit. The government has nothing to hide. However, the government will not disclose any matters related to national security.

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