Pegasus row: SC panel asks petitioners to submit phone for technical evaluation

29-11-2021 Mon 23:29 IST | IANS | National
Pegasus row: SC panel asks petitioners to submit phone for technical evaluation

New Delhi, Nov 29:  The 3-member expert panel constituted by the Supreme Court to investigate whether the Centre has used the Pegasus spyware to snoop on citizens has sent out mails to petitioners asking them to submit their mobile instruments for testing/technical examination.

The petitioners have been asked to respond by December 5. According to a source, the email has been sent to all 11 petitioners before the top court, though only those petitioners who suspected their phones were hacked were supposed to provide their mobile devices for technical examination.

The technical committee also told the petitioners, if they wish to give a statement before it, then they would have to inform the committee for making arrangements for recording the statement.

A total of 11 petitions had been filed based on the findings made public by the Pegasus Project. The petitions in the top court were filed by senior journalists N. Ram and Sashi Kumar, Rajya Sabha MP John Brittas, advocate M.L. Sharma, the Editors Guild of India, activist Jagdeep Chhokar, and Narendra Mishra.

Four journalists - Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, S.N.M. Abdi, Prem Shankar Jha and Rupesh Kumar Singh - and activist Ipsa Shatakshi also moved the top court with three separate petitions. They claimed that their mobile devices were hacked into using the spyware and the forensic examination had proved so.

The Supreme Court had also directed that the technical committee is authorised to devise its own procedure to effectively implement and answer the terms of reference, hold such enquiry or investigation as it deems fit, and take statements of any person in connection with the enquiry and call for the records of any authority or individual.

On October 27, the top court said it was compelled to take up the cause to determine the truth, as it appointed an independent expert technical committee supervised by a retired top court judge, Justice R.V. Raveendran, to probe the Pegasus snooping allegations.

Justice Raveendran would oversee the functioning of the technical committee and he will be assisted by Alok Joshi, former IPS officer and Dr Sundeep Oberoi, Chairman, Sub Committee in the International Organisation of Standardisation/International Electro-Technical Commission/Joint Technical Committee.

The three members of the technical committee are Dr. Naveen Kumar Chaudhary, Professor, Cyber Security and Digital Forensics, and Dean, National Forensic Sciences University, Gandhinagar, Dr Prabaharan P., Professor in School of Engineering, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Amritapuri, Kerala, and Dr Ashwin Anil Gumaste, Institute Chair and Associate Professor, Computer Science and Engineering), Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay.

The bench directed the committee to submit its report expeditiously and scheduled the matter for further hearing after eight weeks.


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