The Supreme Court of India will deliver its judgment tomorrow on a batch of petitions seeking probe into the Pegasus surveillance scandal (Manohar Lal Sharma v. Union of India).
The top court had reserved its orders in the matter on September 13.
On 23 September, Chief Justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana had said in open court that the Supreme Court was mooting constitution of an expert committee to probe the scandal.
However, he had also informed that some of the experts who were contacted had expressed their inability to become part of the committee due to personal reasons leading to the delay by the top court in passing an order in this regard.
The matter was heard by a Bench which besides CJI Ramana, also had Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli.
Israel based spyware firm NSO is best known for its Pegasus spyware, which it claims is sold only to “vetted governments” and not to private entities, though the company does not reveal which governments it sells the controversial product to.
An international consortium, including the Indian news portal The Wire, had recently released a series of reports indicating that the said the software may have been used to infect the mobile devices of several persons including Indian journalists, activists, lawyers, officials, a former Supreme Court judge and others.
To this end, the reports had referred to a list of phone numbers that were selected as potential targets. Upon analysis by a team from Amnesty International, some of these numbers were found to have traces of a successful Pegasus infection, while some showed attempted infection, the reports had said.
A slew of petitions were then filed before the top court seeking probe into the allegations.
On August 17, the Court had issued notice to the Centre in the pleas after the Union submitted that it was willing to give details regarding the controversy to an expert committee, but not make it public before the Court for fear of national security implications.
While doing so, it had questioned the Central government as to why a detailed affidavit could not be filed in response to the petitions filed before the Court.
The Court had eventually reserved its order saying that it will pass orders without Centre's affidavit.