The Centre on Monday filed a two-page affidavit on Pegasus controversy and “unequivocally” denied all allegations made against the government by petitioners led by journalist N Ram about using military grade spyware to snoop on journalists, politicians, activists and court staff.
The Centre said PILs by N Ram, Yashwant Sinha, Editors Guild and 7 others have made allegations “based on conjectures and surmises or on other unsubstantiated media reports or incomplete or uncorroborated material”.
Such material cannot be the basis for filing PILs, solicitor general Tushar Mehta said.
The government will soon set up a committee of experts to examine all issues raised in the Pegasus controversy to dispel any wrong narrative spread by certain vested interests.
A bench of Chief Justice N V Ramana and justices Suryakant and Aniruddha Bose was hearing the matter.
On August 10, the top court had taken exception over “parallel proceedings and debates” on social media by some petitioners who have sought independent probe into the alleged Pegasus snooping issue and said there must be some discipline and they must have “some faith in the system”.
An international media consortium has reported that over 300 verified Indian mobile phone numbers were on a list of potential targets for surveillance using Israeli firm NSO’s Pegasus spyware.
Opposition leaders including Rahul Gandhi, two Union ministers — Prahlad Singh Patel and Railways and IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw — businessman Anil Ambani, a former CBI chief, and at least 40 journalists are on the list on the leaked database of NSO. It is, however, not established that all the phones were hacked. (With agency inputs)