CJI NV Ramana-led Supreme Court Bench stays investigation in Pegasus row by Justice Lokur Commission constituted by WB govt after lawyer Harish Salve raises objections

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A Supreme Court Bench headed by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana has stayed the probe into the Pegasus snooping case by Justice Madan Lokur Commission after lawyer Harish Salve raised objections. The Commission was constituted by the West Bengal government. The Centre’s Narendra Modi government was accused of spying on journalists and its critics using the Israeli snooping software, Pegasus.

NV Ramana

CJI Ramana, according to the Livelaw website, was unhappy that the West Bengal government had decided to probe the matter with its own Commission when the Supreme Court has already constituted an independent committee to investigate the matter.

This was after Salve challenged the proceedings of Justice Lokur Commission. Justice Lokur himself is a former Supreme Court judge.

Senior lawyer Abhishek Singhvi was representing the West Bengal government. Addressing Singhvi, CJI Ramana asked, “Mr Singhvi, what is this? Last time you gave the undertaking. We wanted to record you said don’t record. Again you started the inquiry?”

To which, Singhvi said that the state government did not control the Commission and the Supreme Court was free to pass an order. CJI Ramana said that he understood the state government’s predicament as he pass an order, staying the Commission.

The Supreme Court in October had surprised everyone by rejecting the Narendra Modi government’s request to set up an expert panel to probe the allegations of snooping using the Israeli software Pegasus. The Bench comprising Chief Justice of India NV Ramana and Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli had ordered a probe into allegations of snooping by the Modi government by retired Supreme Court judge, Justice RV Raveendran.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had earlier accused the Modi government of tapping the phones of opposition leaders. “Pegasus is dangerous and ferocious. I cannot talk to anyone. You are paying too much money for spying. I have plastered my phone. We should also plaster the Centre otherwise country will be destroyed,” she had said.