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Legal

Updated on: Friday, December 17, 2021, 11:21 PM IST

FPJ Legal: How can there be parallel probe, SC stays West Bengal panel inquiry into Pegasus snooping case

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A Supreme Court Bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana on Friday stayed the functioning of the 2-member Pegasus inquiry commission set up by the West Bengal government under its former judge, Justice Madan B Lokur, on a PIL filed by a Delhi lawyer.

The order came on a contempt petition citing violation of a Supreme Court ruling on October 27, directing a probe into the surveillance scandal by a 3-member expert committee headed by another former Supreme Court judge, Justice R V Raveendran.

The West Bengal Government had constituted the commission even as the Supreme Court was hearing a batch of petitions, seeking a probe into the surveillance of Indian lawyers, journalists, government officials, and constitutional functionaries, by using the Israeli Pegasus software.

Another petition was filed before the top court seeking to disband the commission led by Justice Lokur. On this, the Supreme Court issued notice, but did not pass any interim order.

Senior advocate Dr Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for West Bengal, had earlier told the court that there was no need of any interim order, assuring that he will convey to the state government that the Apex Court already seized of the matter.

When the contempt petition was taken up on Friday, the last day before two weeks of winter holiday, the Bench, also comprising Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli, questioned Singhvi: "What is this Mr Singhvi? You told us there is no need for an order."

Singhvi said he had conveyed the need for restraint, but the commission is not controlled by me. ‘‘It did not work till your orders (setting up a probe committee) were out.’’

‘‘We understand your predicament," the CJI replied before proceeding to stay the commission's functioning.

Senior counsel Harish Salve appearing for the petitioner sought permission to implead the secretary of the Justice Lokur commission which was allowed.

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Published on: Friday, December 17, 2021, 11:21 PM IST
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