Pegasus spying: SC stays Bengal's Lokur Inquiry Commission

Pegasus spying: SC stays Bengal's Lokur Inquiry Commission

New Delhi, Dec 17 (UNI) Expressing disappointment over the Commission of Inquiry set up by the West Bengal government to probe the Pegasus espionage charges, the Supreme Court on Friday put a stay on the probe.

A bench, headed by Justice NV Ramana and also comprising Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli, issued a notice to the Commission, headed by former SC Judge Madan B Lokur, asking it to summon a reply.

Taking cognisance of the public interest litigation (PIL) filed by the petitioner voluntary organisation 'Global Village Foundation Charitable Trust', the top court of the country observed that the work of the Commission of Inquiry constituted should be immediately stopped.

An NGO had filed a petition seeking an immediate stay on the functioning of the commission set up by the state government from the apex court. The petitioner said the Supreme Court has constituted an independent commission to investigate the matter. In such a situation, it was unfair on part of the state government to constitute a separate commission to investigate the matter.

During the hearing, SC asked Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for the West Bengal government, that the state government had given an oral promise that it would constitute a separate commission. Despite this, a commission was formed by the government and now, the Court was being told that the investigation was going on. To this, Singhvi said the government was not interfering in the working of that Commission.

The Supreme Court had set up an independent inquiry commission into the Pegasus probe. The petitioner NGO had on Thursday requested for an urgent hearing in the matter of the Commission of Inquiry constituted by West Bengal under special mention.

An international media consortium had earlier reported that over 300 verified Indian mobile phone numbers were on a list of potential targets for surveillance using Pegasus spyware.

Opposition leaders, including former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, two Union Ministers Prahlad Singh Patel (Minister of State for Jal Shakti) and Ashwini Vaishnaw (Railways and IT); businessman Anil Ambani; a former CBI chief and at least 40 journalists were on the list of the leaked NSO database. It was, however, not established that all phones were hacked. The Government has denied all allegations in the matter.

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