New Delhi: Even as the Opposition parties are united in the blockade of Parliament until the issue of Pegasus snooping is discussed, they are divided on a proposal to jointly move the Supreme Court for an investigation into it. The move has been discussed twice this week.
Though the dominant view is to take the legal recourse, the Congress is reluctant. It scuttled a decision by pleading that it would like to consult its top lawyers. The reluctance apparently stems from the fear of an adverse court judgment providing relief to the government cornered on the issue, as it happened with Rafale in 2019.
The Congress lawyers have told the party leadership that they find no need to go to court since the issue is already flagged for consideration by the SC the next week, as assured by the Chief Justice of India N V Ramana on Friday. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who is also a Rajya Sabha member of the Congress, got the case listed the next week by mentioning it on behalf of senior journalists N Ram and Sasi Kumar.
Moreover, they say some of them are in any case going to appear in the court on behalf of those who have filed the petitions. They do not agree with the view of the Opposition leaders that a joint petition will create a moral pressure.
They point out that the Congress had opposed the idea of moving court over the Rafale deal as well on their advice, but former BJP ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie and activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan went to the SC and cut a sorry figure as the court refused to order an inquiry.
That judgment came from a Bench headed by then Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, who was awarded a Rajya Sabha membership after his retirement. The Opposition leaders insisting on a joint plea claim the recent decisions since Justice Ramana took over show the judiciary is no longer favouring the government as in the past and all political parties moving it together would inspire it to order a probe into the Pegasus racket.
Besides the petition of the two journalists, the two other petitions have been filed by John Brittas, a CPI(M) member of the Rajya Sabha, and Delhi lawyer Manohar Lal Sharma. Their petitions, as also any others, are to be clubbed together for the hearing the next week, though the SC has not yet fixed the Bench and the date for taking them up.
Another issue that plagues the Opposition parties’ meetings every day is that the Pegasus controversy may impact the urban voters but could go against them in the case of the rural voters influenced by some television channels.
They are particularly concerned that Uttar Pradesh and Punjab are going to polls early next year and the rural voters count there. Ideas were floated in their meetings to focus beyond Pegasus by highlighting the issues of the agitating farmers against three controversial farm laws and the price rise, particularly in the case of petrol and diesel. The consensus has, however, not emerged on how to go about.
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