Pegasus Project: 5 targeted journalists move SC, say have been subject to intrusive hacking

This is the first time, that directly aggrieved persons have moved court for disclosure of information

Journalist move SCImage

Five journalists, who allegedly featured in the target list of the Pegasus spyware, have moved the Supreme Court arguing that the unauthorised use of surveillance by government agencies have violated their fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution.

These journalists are SNM Abdi, Prem Shankar Jha, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, Rupesh Kumar Singh and Ipsa Shataksi, who have reportedly said that the forensic examination of their mobile phones done by Amnesty International has revealed that their mobile phones were targeted using the Pegasus malware.

Their petition, filed through Advocate-on-Record, Prateek Chadha, states that they have been subjected to a “deeply intrusive surveillance and hacking by the Government of India or some other third party”, reported LiveLaw. They have sought for the following reliefs:

1) Declare that the installation of Pegasus is illegal and unconstitutional and is ultra vires Part III (fundamental rights) of the Constitution;

2) Issue a direction, order or writ, including writ in the nature of mandamus directing the government to produce and disclose to the court and the aggrieved parties, all materials and documents with respect to all investigation, authorisation, and/or order(s) pertaining to the use of Pegasus on the Petitioner;

3) Issue a direction, order or writ, including writ in the nature of mandamus directing the government to take suitable steps to protect Indian citizens from the use of cyberweapons/malware such as Pegasus;

4) Issue a direction, order or writ, including writ in the nature of mandamus directing the government to put in place a judicial oversight mechanism to deal with any complaints on illegal breaches of privacy and hacking and punish all government officials responsible for such breaches.

Since the controversy of illegal surveillance has erupted, this is the first time that aggrieved parties have taken legal recourse. Before this, two senior journalists N Ram and Sashi Kumar have approached the Supreme Court and have sought for an independent inquiry headed by a sitting or retired judge of the Supreme Court to probe into the allegations of the illegal surveillance, and consequent directions in terms of the report or recommendations of the independent inquiry. 

Rajya Sabha Member, John Brittas has also filed a public interest litigation (PIL), directing the Centre to conduct an immediate investigation through a special investigating team, which would be monitored by the Supreme Court of India. For more details about the pleas filed by N Ram, Sashi Kumar and Brittas, you may read the SabrangIndia report here.

The Supreme Court will be hearing the petitions filed by N Ram, Kumar and Brittas on August 5. (W.P. C. Nos. 826 and 829 of 2021).   

On July 26, the West Bengal government appointed a two-member Commission headed by retired judge of the Supreme Court, Justice Madan Lokur and Calcutta High Court Chief Justice Jyotirmay Bhattacharya to inquire into this Pegasus scandal.


Pegasus Snoopgate: RS MP, Journalists move SC for court monitored probe
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