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Supreme Court appoints a panel led by former Judge RV Raveendran to probe Pegasus spyware issue

Stock photo: Supreme Court of India

New Delhi, Oct 27 (MNN) The Pegasus controversy came to haunt the Indian government on Wednesday as the Supreme Court appointed a committee headed by former apex court Justice RV Raveendran to probe the matter that had led to a huge political controversy in the country in July.

The panel appointed by the apex court will be empowered to take the help of any expert in order to ensure total transparency and efficiency.

A Bench of Chief Justice of India NV Ramana and Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli ordered the probe into the alleged illegal surveillance on many Indian citizens, including journalists, politicians and even a judge.

The committee will probe who all – the Indian government or any state government or their agencies – acquired the spyware and whether the Israeli spyware was used on phones or other electronic devices of Indians to access their data, secretly listen to them and intercept information and also under what legal mandate or rules or protocols.

It will also go into the issue of whether the use of the spyware was authorised and also the steps taken by the Indian government after 2019 reports about hacking of WhatsApp accounts of Indian citizens by misusing Pegasus spyware.

The committee will recommend on enactment of new law or amendment to the existing one regarding surveillance and to ensure secure right to privacy etc.

Justice Raveendran, who served the apex court from 2005-2011, will be assisted on the probe committee by former IPS officer Alok Joshi who has investigative experience and technical knowledge that can help in the matter in question.

Another panel member is Dr Sundeep Oberoi, a cybersecurity expert, and Chairman of International Organisation of Standardisation/International Electro­Technical Commission/Joint Technical Committee. He is a former head of cybersecurity services at TCS.

A Technical Committee set up of the purpose has Dr Prabaharan P from School of Engineering in Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham in Kerala; cybersecurity expert Dr Naveen Kumar Chaudhary from the National Forensic Sciences University in Gujarat; and Dr Ashwin Anil Gumaste from Computer Science and Engineering in Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay.

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