SC Makes Big Comments On Pegasus Spyware Case
The Supreme Court has unequivocally rejected the pleas by the Central Government over the Pegasus Spyware affair. It has set up an expert committee which will be working under a retired Supreme Court judge. The Committee will file its initial report within 8 weeks on different aspects of the Pegasus affair where phones of judges, politicians, journalists and business persons were spied upon through a Israeli spyware. Here are some of the quotable quotes from the bench headed by Chief Justice of India, NV Ramana :
- "It is a settled position of law that in matters pertaining to national security, the scope of judicial review is limited. However, this does not mean that the State gets a free pass every time the spectre of "national security" is raised. National security cannot be the bugbear that the judiciary shies away from."
- "There is a broad consensus that unauthorized surveillance/accessing of stored data from the phones and other devices of citizens for reasons other than nation's security would be illegal, objectionable and a matter of concern."
- "We make it clear that our effort is to uphold the constitutional aspirations and rule of law, without allowing ourselves to be consumed in the political rhetoric. This Court has always been conscious of not entering the political thicket. However, at the same time, it has never cowered from protecting all from the abuses of fundamental rights”
- "It is undeniable that surveillance and the knowledge that one is under the threat of being spied on can affect the way an individual decides to exercise his or her rights. Such a scenario might result in self censorship. This is of particular concern when it relates to the freedom of the press, which is an important pillar of democracy. Such chilling effect on the freedom of speech is an assault on the vital public watchdog role of the press, which may undermine the ability of the press to provide accurate and reliable information."
- "Protection of journalistic sources is one of the basic conditions for the freedom of the press. Without such protection, sources may be deterred from assisting the press in informing the public on matters of public interest."
- "Union of India should not take an adversarial position when the fundamental rights of citizens are at threat."