Demand for live streaming of SC proceedings on Pegasus

CJAR, NCPRI demand live streaming of SC proceedings on Pegasus

It said these revelations point to a "grave threat" to the independence of the judiciary

CJI Justice N V Ramana. Credit: PTI File Photo

The Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR) and National Campaign for Peoples' Right to Information (NCPRI) have urged Chief Justice of India N V Ramana to live-stream the hearings of the petitions filed seeking investigation into the Pegasus snooping episode.

In a letter to the Chief Justice on Monday, the CJAR and NCPRI said there has been "deep concern" regarding the recent revelations that the Pegasus software was used to "hack into the phones of Indian citizens, apparently at the behest of the Indian government".

The letter claimed that the deployment of the Pegasus software has been established through cyber forensic analysis of some of the targeted phones by internationally reputed labs.

"Such large-scale intrusive surveillance into the phones belonging to constitutional authorities, political leaders, journalists and activists, apart from being a violation of people’s fundamental right to privacy, is a frontal attack on our democracy," said the letter signed by Prashant Bhushan, Anjali Bhardwaj, Nikhil Dey and Venkatesh Nayak among others.

Also read: Pegasus case: Supreme Court objects to 'parallel debate' on social media

Noting that the Supreme Court is hearing multiple petitions seeking a probe into the issue, the letter said, "Given that this case deals with matters of tremendous public interest, and its outcome will have wide ramifications for our republic, we are writing to request you to ensure live-streaming of the hearings of the case."

The letter noted that media reports have shown that phone numbers belonging to a judge of the Supreme Court, registrars of the apex court and the woman staffer (and her family members) who had accused a former Chief Justice of India of sexual harassment were potentially hacked.

It said these revelations point to a "grave threat" to the independence of the judiciary. An Election Commissioner of India, leaders of opposition parties, senior journalists and activists figuring in the list of people allegedly surveilled before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls "indicate a deep subversion of electoral democracy", the letter added.

The Supreme Court had agreed to live-stream proceedings in important cases, the letter said referring to the Swapnil Tripathi vs Supreme Court of India judgment.

The CJAR and NCPRI pointed out that there has been significant progress in the last few years with at least some High Courts -- Gujarat, Karnataka, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh -- currently live-streaming their proceedings on YouTube via their official channels, which also allows the live-stream to be subsequently available as a recording.

Chief Justice Ramana had earlier said that it was high time for "de-mystifying" the justice delivery system and furthering access through open courts. 

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