Nothing to hide, SC can authorise panel to examine all aspects: Centre on Pegasus row


The Centre on Monday told the Supreme Court that the technical committee of experts having independent members can be approved by it and the top court could also authorise this committee to look into all aspects connected with the Pegasus snooping allegations.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted before a bench headed by Chief Justice N.V Ramana that the government has nothing to hide and the expert committee may go into whether Pegasus was used or not and also all other aspects.

The Chief Justice said, “We are not saying anything against the government. That is not the issue.” He added that there are areas which the committee can go into while some they can’t, and further queried Mehta that ‘how will the committee examine the aspect of procurement of Pegasus?’

Mehta added, the top court may lay down the terms of reference of the committee. “We have nothing to hide,” said Mehta. He further added that ‘if lordship approves, a committee can be constituted of neutral experts and not government officers’.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing journalist N. Ram, argued that the government should say whether it used Pegasus or not. “That will not reveal any national security issue”, said Sibal.

The Chief Justice replied, if government is reluctant and they don’t want to file an affidavit, how do we compel them?

Sibal contended let them say that, then we can argue the other issues. “In that case the matter gets even more serious because they are not denying it”, he added.

The top court said it will continue to hear the matter on Tuesday.

The Centre on Monday in a two-page affidavit submitted in the top court that with a view to dispel any wrong narrative spread by certain vested interests and with an object of examining the issues raised, it will constitute “a committee of experts in the field which will go into all aspects of the issue”.

The top court is hearing a batch of petitions seeking various directions, which includes an SIT probe, a judicial inquiry and directions to the government to reveal details about whether it had used the Pegasus software to spy on citizens.