The Supreme Court of India is likely to pass a comprehensive order next week on the batch of petitions related to Pegasus Snoopgate (Global Village Foundation Public Charitable Trust v. Union of India).
A Bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana said this on Wednesday while hearing a plea challenging the decision of the West Bengal government to set up of a two-member Commission of Inquiry headed by retired Supreme Court judge, Justice Madan Lokur to probe into allegations surrounding use of Pegasus by Government of India.
"We are saying that next week we will pass a comprehensive order," the Bench remarked.
The plea filed by Global Village Foundation Public Charitable Trust has challenged the decision of the Mamata Banerjee government to probe Pegasus by way of a judicial commission.
When the plea was taken up for hearing on Wednesday, the Bench said that it will hear the plea next week along with other petitions related to the matter seeking probe into the scandal.
A bunch of petitions seeking probe into the scandal are already pending before the Supreme Court on which the top court had issued notice on the same to the Central government earlier.
Senior Advocate Harish Salve, appearing for the petitioner-trust, said that the commission of inquiry should not proceed with the probe till the Supreme Court hears the plea next week.
"I just request that in the meanwhile, let nothing happen in the enquiry," he said.
Senior Advocate Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for the West Bengal government, initially opposed the same.
The Court, however, said that it will be passing a comprehensive order next week and if the Lokur commission proceeds in the meanwhile, then the Supreme Court will be forced to pass orders today.
"We are saying that next week we will pass a comprehensive order. In the meantime. If you start an enquiry, we will have to pass an order," the Court said.
Dr. Singhvi then said that he will convey the same to the State authorities while assuring the Court that "nothing will happen".
"Nothing will happen in the meantime. Please don't make an observation, that is all," he said.
The Court then issued notice and tagged the matter with other petitions on Pegasus scandal.
The matter will be heard next week.
The Commission of Inquiry constituted by West Bengal government, which also has on board former Acting Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court, Justice Jyotirmay Bhattacharya has been given the task of inquiring into allegations that the Pegasus software developed by Israeli spyware firm NSO had been misused to spy on Indian lawyers, journalists, government officials, Constitutional functionaries and others.
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, 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.