The Supreme Court has postponed the hearing of the Pegasus case, scheduled for February 23, to Friday, February 25, following Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta seeking additional time.
The Solicitor General had asked for the extension because he will be arguing a different matter on February 23, when the court was to consider the technical committee's interim report.
On Monday, the three-member technical committee appointed by the apex court and headed by retired SC judge Justice RV Raveendran submitted an interim report on the alleged use of
the Israeli spyware to target phones of politicians, activists, journalists, and lawyers.
The committee also includes experts on cybersecurity, digital forensics, and computer networks.
The report was to be considered by a bench led by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana and including Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli.
The technical committee was appointed in October 2021, when the SC had last heard this case and given eight weeks’ time to file its report. The government’s request to set up the committee on its own was turned down; the court said it would “violate the settled judicial principle against bias”.
The government had earlier refused to file an affidavit citing national security. In September 2021, it said there was “nothing to hide” but making certain details public could give terrorists an advantage.
The government has also said it has no information on a report by The New York Times that India acquired the spyware as part of a $2 billion defence deal. The Pegasus controversy erupted last year after allegations that an Indian client of Israel’s NSO Group (which developed the software) used it to illegally spy on Indian mobile phone numbers. The numbers included those registered to Opposition leaders like Congress MP Rahul Gandhi and poll strategist Prashant Kishor, as well as others critical of the Narendra Modi-led BJP government in India.