Solicitor General Tushar Mehta indicated that the government may be filing an affidavit in the case, and he needed time to meet with the officials concerned.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to the Centre’s request to adjourn the hearing of petitions for an independent probe into allegations of the government using Israeli-based Pegasus spyware to snoop on citizens.
A three-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana stood over the hearing to September 13 after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said he could not meet with officials to discuss the issue.
Mr. Mehta indicated that the government may be filing an affidavit in the case, and he needed time to meet with the officials concerned.
Earlier, in August, the government had filed a two-page affidavit denying “all and any allegations”.
“Haven’t you already filed an affidavit?” the CJI referred to the August affidavit.
Mr. Mehta submitted that the court had left it open for the government to file another, detailed affidavit, if necessary.
The court had issued pre-admission in the case on August 17. In fact, on that day, the government had argued against a public hearing of the case, citing national security concerns. The Centre had asked the court, instead, to allow it to form an independent committee of experts to look into Pegasus snooping reports.
“As a responsible government, we are submitting that we will form a Committee of neutral experts, whose report will be placed before the Supreme Court… I repeat, it is not my case that I will not divulge anything. All will be revealed before the Committee… Let me do that before a Committee… Permit us to form a Committee… We will place its report before the Supreme Court itself,” Mr. Mehta had urged the court on August 17.
The court had, however, made it clear that there was no question of compromising national security.
“We are not going to ask you to divulge anything that will harm the defence of the nation… We are extremely reluctant to say anything on that. But the question here is that there are some persons of eminence who have come here, saying there has been interception of their phones… That can be done, but with the permission of the competent authority… What is the problem if that competent authority filed an affidavit before us? In the affidavit we don’t want a single word on any aspect that relates to the security of the nation… All we are saying is that we are issuing simple notice… Let the competent authority say to what extent what information can be disclosed,” Justice Surya Kant had explained.
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