SC restrains WB's inquiry commission from probing Pegasus issue

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday restrained the two-member Inquiry Commission headed by former top court judge Justice Madan B Lokur, constituted by the State of West Bengal to investigate into allegation relating to Pegasus Spyware snooping case.

A Bench of Chief Justice of India NV, Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli while putting a stay on all the proceedings of the Commission also issued notices to the Commission.

The matter was listed today after the petitioner NGO "Global Village Foundation Charitable Trust" told the Bench that the Commission set up by the West Bengal was going ahead with the probe even when the apex court has constituted an independent expert committee to examine the Pegasus allegations.

At the outset, the CJI asked senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi appearing for the West Bengal government, "Mr Singhvi, what is this? Last time you gave the undertaking (that Commission will not go ahead with its probe). Again you started the inquiry?"

Singhvi replied that he had conveyed the need for restraint to the Commission and state government cannot control the Commission.

To this, the Bench ordered, "We understand the state's predicament. Issue notice to all parties. We stay proceedings."

Earlier, the apex court was assured by the West Bengal government that the Commission will not go ahead with the inquiry. In it had declined the Trust's plea to stay the notification issued by the West Bengal government constituting an Inquiry Commission. However, the Bench took an oral undertaking from Singhvi on behalf of West Bengal that the Commission will not function while the matter was under the Court's consideration.

On October 27, the Court had constituted an independent committee headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice RV Raveendran to probe into the Pegasus allegations.

Earlier, the state government in its affidavit had called the Union government "non-committal and evasive" while justifying the setting up of a two-member Commission of Inquiry.

The PIL filed by the NGO sought direction to disband the two-member Commission of Inquiry headed by a retired apex court judge, Justice Madan B Lokur and also comprising former Acting Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court, Justice (retired) Jyotirmay Bhattacharya by the State government to probe the allegations of snooping by Pegasus software developed by Israeli spyware firm NSO.

It sought to stay on the proceedings of the Commission stating that proceedings before the committee should not go on when the issue is being examined at a pan-India level. (ANI)

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