The Supreme Court in its historic judgment on the Pegasus scandal memorably castigated the government and formed a committee under its own watch to enquire into the alleged grave state violation of the precious right to privacy of citizens.The honourable court had also apparently prohibited any other agency from enquiring into it.Recently the commission led by Ret.Justice of SC Madan P.Lokur that was formed earlier by the West Bengal government apparently resumed making some preliminary enquiries incurring the displeasure of the Supreme Court.The West Bengal government has been called to account for offending against its order.
The Supreme Court has been guided by its own commitment to unbiased justice in this intervention.But this step needs to be discussed in public interest.
For some time the functioning of the SC committee seems to have been in the doldrums.There is silence in the press on such an important matter because there is nothing to report.
Certain sections of the conscious public,upset by fears of Big Brother Watching Everybody,might naturally get nervous at this apparent silence.
An investigation into such a mammoth conspiracy against fundamental rights is no plain sailing.It will require a vibrant office with dedicated and efficient staff,like several historic commissions in the United States and the U.K.Above all it requires adequate and substantial funds to get going.It is not likely that the Centre will be brisk and prompt in providing money and supporting a battery of junior investigators and clerical staff to help the SC committee out. At best it might settle for delayed funding and paying paltry sums at protracted intervals.Since it cannot be a hush-hush private affair there is every reason to expect stirring publicity on people being summoned and bearing witness.
So far we have not witnessed even a trickle of such publicity.The work of the committee is unimaginably complex as the culprits using it will take every care to erase their footprints and misguide enquiry into their manipulations. Besides it is bound to be extremely complex with multiple ramifications.
For example the committee at some stage will have to consider the reports of Arsenal Forensics on the compromised computer evidence on the Elgar Parishad case.At least to make sure whether Pegasus was used on the accused. Meanwhile the manufacturers and facilitators of Pegasus NSO of Israel seems to be sinking under the weight of world-wide outrage at the infamy of its vaunted brands.An enquiry into its involvement in any underhand machinations by either state or non-state actors here will of course require an extensive and complex scanning of its covert records.Since the technical member of the committee will also need experts in electronics and accountancy as well as international law to examine its ramifications, any kind of quiet and sedate scrutiny is ruled out ab initio.
We as concerned citizens expect some light on how the committee of the SC has proceeded so far,whether it has adequate staff and funding to complete or even start this huge undertaking.In the absence of such reassuring news we might have every reason to feel uneasy.The government deserved every word of the strictures passed by the SC.But unless we have the minimum information suggesting that the SC committee enquiring into this toxic affair is well on its way and is supported by an infrastructure to carry on its work we might apprehend that the trail is getting cold and it might even get buried under the unavoidable avalanche of masses of other intriguing and exciting news dished out from hour to hour.For the danger to our fundamental rights from such vicious and malign snooping remains imminent and quite menacing.
Hiren Gohain is a political commentator