Concerning the national security of India, the Supreme Court has constituted a committee headed by former SC judge Justice RV Raveendram to conduct a "thorough inquiry" and make an exhaustive report on the Pegasus spyware.
The bench comprising of Chief Justice NV Ramana, Justice Surya Kant and Justice Hima Kholi said "In a democratic country governed by the rule of law, indiscriminate spying on individuals cannot be allowed except with sufficient statutory safeguards, by following the procedure established by law under the Constitution."
The freedom of an individual is under threat of being spied, which might result in self-censorship. The freedom of press which is a significant pillar of democracy is under grave threat. Such chilling effect on the freedom of speech may undermine the ability of press to provide accurate and reliable information.
"The national security cannot be the bugbear that the judiciary shies away from, by virtue of its mere mentioning. Although this Court should be circumspect in encroaching the domain of national security, no omnibus prohibition can be called for against judicial review," said the CJI.
The Court noted the following compelling circumstances that weighed on it to issue such an order:
1. The right to privacy and freedom of expression are alleged to be jeopardised, which must be investigated.
2. The Respondent-Union of India has not taken a clear stance on its actions.
3. Foreign countries' allegations have been taken seriously, as has the involvement of foreign parties.
4. The possibility that a foreign authority, agency, or private entity is involved in surveilling citizens of this country.
5. Claims that the Union or state governments are complicit in citizens' rights violations.