Five Indian journalists have moved the Supreme Court of India alleging that the government is yet to expressly deny procuring or deploying the Pegasus spyware on them.
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.
The five journalists who have approached the Supreme Court are Prem Shankar Jha, RK Singh, Paranjoy Thakurta, SN Abdi and Ipsa Shataksi
The plea states that forensic investigation into the devices of the above journalists has confirmed snooping by the Pegasus spyware.
It claims that surveillance of the devices is violative of their fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution of India and that this is an act of hacking, surveillance attack either by the government or a third party.
It is noteworthy that three petitions on the Pegasus Row are already pending before the apex court. The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear pleas of senior journalist N Ram seeking an independent probe by a sitting or a retired judge into the Pegasus snooping matter. The court is scheduled to hear the cases on August 4.
A bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana took note of the submissions of senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Ram and veteran scribe Sashi Kumar, that the petition has been filed and numbered and needed to be heard in view of the large ramifications of the alleged snooping.
Caught in the eye of a storm, the Israeli NSO Group has suspended some of its clients from using its spyware Pegasus. However there is no clarity on who these clients are. The move comes on the back of mounting pressure from the French government, which is extremely upset over reports that President Macron's phone may have been targeted for surveillance.
(Edited by : Abhishek Jha)