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SC appoints 3-member Expert Panel to Investigate on Pegasus Spyware Usage

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Pegasus SC-appointed expert panelOn 27th October 2021, A Supreme Court (SC) bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) N V Ramana instituted a 3-member expert panel to investigate the issue on usage of ‘Pegasus Spyware’ on Indian Citizens during 2019.

3-member expert panel:

  • Naveen Kumar Chaudhary – He is a Cyber Security expert & the Dean of National Forensic Sciences University, Gandhinagar, Gujarat
  • Prabaharan P – With Expertise in Malware detection & Critical infrastructure security, Prabaharan serves as Professor (School of Engineering), Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham
  • Ashwin Anil Gumaste – He was awarded Vikram Sarabhai Research Award (2012) and Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize for Science and Technology (2018), & currently serves as an Associate Professor in IIT Bombay
  1. The 3-member technical panel will submit the reports to former SC Judge RV Raveendran, who will be assisted by former IPS officer Alok Joshi and Sundeep Oberoi.
  2. V K Bansal, Officer on Special Duty/Registrar, Supreme Court, will act as a coordinator between the committee, the overseeing Judge and the central/state governments

Background on Pegasus Issue:

  • Pegasus is an Spyware software developed by Israeli firm NSO, which can access stored data, conversations on whatsapp and other information from a victim’s mobile phone.
  • There were reports published in 2019, that Pegasus spyware was used by the Central & State Governments to collect information from the WhatsApp accounts of Indian citizens.

Rights & other violations due to Pegasus:

  • Right to privacy and Freedom of speech
  • Allegation of Foreign parties/countries involvement
  • Involvement of Union of India

Expert Committees Role:

i. The expert committee will look for the involvement of any State/Central government agencies in the alleged use of Pegasus on Indian citizens.

ii. Will establish a mechanism for raising grievances by citizens on illegal surveillance on their devices.

iii. Format for setting up an independent agency to investigate instances of cyber attacks in India.

Recent Related News:

In April 2021, CJI launched “Supreme Court Portal for Assistance in Court’s Efficiency (SUPACE)” an Artificial Intelligence (AI) driven tool, which is 1st of its kind in the World that collects relevant facts and laws related to the case.

About Supreme Court of India:

CJI – N. V. Ramana (48th CJI)
Establishment – 26 January 1950

  • Articles 124 to 147 in Part V of the Constitution of India deals with the Supreme Court.

Total Strength of Judges – 34(including CJI)(But Presently there are 33 (Including CJI)).
Retirement Age of Supreme Court Judges is 65 years