The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear a plea by veteran journalists N. Ram and Sashi Kumar seeking a direction for an independent probe by its sitting or retired judge into the alleged Pegasus snooping scandal.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal mentioned the matter before a bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana and Justice Surya Kant stating that civil liberties of citizens, politicians, belonging to Opposition parties, journalists, and court staff have been put under surveillance.

He insisted that it is an issue, which is making waves in India and worldover and this issue requires an urgent hearing. After Sibal’s submissions, the bench said it may hear the matter next week.

The plea filed by scribes said mass surveillance using a military-grade spyware abridges several fundamental rights and appears to represent an attempt to infiltrate, attack and destabilise independent institutions, which are critical pillars of country’s democratic set-up.

The petitioners sought direction to be issued to the Centre to disclose if any of its agencies have obtained license for Pegasus spyware or used it either directly or indirectly, to conduct surveillance as alleged.

The plea claimed that hacking constitutes a criminal offence punishable under interalia Section 66 (computer related offences), 66B (punishment for dishonestly receiving stolen computer resource or communication device), 66E (punishment for violation of privacy) and 66F (punishment for cyberterrorism) of the IT Act, punishable with imprisonment and/or fine.

Earlier, advocate ML Sharma and Rajya Sabha MP John Brittas had also moved the apex court seeking probe into the spying allegations.

–IANS

ss/in

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