November 12, 2021 - 7:48 am

SC Probes Snooping Allegations

The supreme Court of India ordered to set up an independent expert technical committee headed by former Supreme Court judge R V Raveendran to look into the allegations of unauthorised surveillance using the Israeli built Pegasus spyware (a highly-advanced spyware that can gain access to someone's cell phone after user clicks link sent by it, or even with a missed call. After installing itself stealthily, Pegasus begins to contact control servers which allow it to send commands to gather data from the infected device).

                           The Supreme Court order broadly addresses three issues that have been flagged in the Pegasus row - the citizen's right to privacy, judicial review when the executive invokes national security and the implications of surveillance on free speech. The court has accurately assessed the need for the disclosures by the Union Government on Pegasus, beyond bald denials and ad hominem attacks. The chilling effect surveillance can produce "is an assault on the vital public-watchdog role of the press which may undermine the ability of the press to provide accurate and reliable information." Any violation of the right by the state even in national interest has to follow procedure established by the law.

                            The supreme court has by an objective assessment, observed fidelity to constitutional adjudication. It comes at a time when there exists a perceptible disenchantment with institutional responses to violations of rights and threats to our democracy. Hence, the constitution of this committee provides hope. The supreme court sharply defined the questions it needs to ask and these will be answered when the committee reports to the supreme court after 8 weeks. one thing needs to be clear in the mind while delivering the judgement on the snooping row that justice must not only be done but also be seen to be done.