Five journalists reported to be on the potential list of Pegasus snoop targets have moved the Supreme Court contending that the unauthorised use of surveillance by government agencies has violated their fundamental rights under the constitution, .
The journalists who filed the petition are Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, SNM Abdi, Prem Shankar Jha, Rupesh Kumar Singh and Ipsa Shataksi. They stated that they have strong reason to believe that they have been subjected to a “deeply intrusive surveillance and hacking by the government of India or some other third party.”
In their petition, the journalists pointed out that the union government has not categorically denied using the Pegasus malware for surveillance purposes.
LiveLaw reported: "The petitioners argue that the unauthorised surveillance through such sophisticated software will create a 'chilling effect' on the fundamental right to free speech, constitute a blatant violation of fundamental right to privacy and will deter informants and whistleblowers from coming forward and bringing to light wrongdoing at various levels of government and as such have a detrimental effect on transparency in governance all across India."
The petition said that France’s national cybersecurity agency ANSSI had confirmed the presence of Pegasus spyware on the phones of two journalists.
Among the relief being sought is a declaration that the "installation and/or use of malware or spyware such as Pegasus is illegal and unconstitutional" and a "judicial oversight mechanism to deal with any complaints on illegal breaches of privacy and hacking and punish all government officials responsible for such breaches". The petition also sought a direction to the respondents to "produce and disclose" all material and documents with respect to the "investigation, authorisation, and/or order(s) pertaining to the use of Pegasus on the petitioner".
On July 18, an investigation in the Wire revealed that 40 Indian journalists, along with political leaders and election strategists were potential targets of Pegasus. The Wire is one of the 17 news organisations across the world that collaborated with a Paris-based non-profit Forbidden Stories and Amnesty's Security Lab. Both these organisations had access to a list of more “concentrated in countries known to surveil their citizens and also known to have been clients of NSO Group”.