The Supreme Court on Tuesday took exception to "parallel debate" on social media by petitioners who are seeking a court-monitored probe into the reports of the government allegedly using Israeli software Pegasus to spy on politicians, activists, and journalists.
A Bench of Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, Justice Vineet Saran and Justice Surya Kant asked the petitioners to refrain from indulging in parallel debates outside the Court on social media platforms and told them to have faith in the system.
There has to be some discipline when the court is examining the matter, if they have some points to raise, they can do so by filing an affidavit, the Bench told counsels appearing for petitioners in the case.
CJI Ramana said, "This is the message of me and my two brothers. All petitioners are expected to answer the queries of the court through the debate in the court. If they want to say something through social media, Twitter, etc., it is for them. You all have come to the court and you speak through the counsels. We don't want parallel debates. You must have faith in the system. There must be some discipline."
"We asked some questions. There is an adjudication process. Sometimes it may be inconvenient to you. That's how this process is. Both sides have to face the music. If they want to bring something to our notice, you bring it through an affidavit. We expect they answer our queries through a proper debate in court and not outside," he added.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal appearing for senior journalists N Ram and Sashi Kumar said he agreed that when a case is going on it should not be discussed outside.
Sibal mentioned that on the last date of hearing the CJI had enquired about a California court case regarding the use of Pegasus to infiltrate WhatsApp, and referred to the trolling of N Ram on Twitter regarding the issue.
It was taken out of context, but debates must not cross the limits, CJI said.
During the hearing, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for the Central government sought time to file a reply in the case till Friday. The Bench then posted the matter for August 16 to decide whether or not to issue a notice in the petitions seeking probe into the Pegasus snooping issue.
In the earlier hearing, the top court had asked the petitioners to serve a copy of their petitions to the Central government's law officers and it would take up the matter on Tuesday. It said without the Central government present in the hearing, the bench could not proceed as of now.
It had observed that the allegations about the Central government allegedly using Israeli software Pegasus to spy on people "are serious if news reports are correct".
The apex court, however, asked people who approached the Court why was any criminal complaint not registered by persons affected by the snooping.
There are ten pleas before the top court which were filed by senior journalists N Ram, and Sashi Kumar, Rajya Sabha MP John Brittas of Communist Marxist Party of India (Marxist) and advocate ML Sharma.
Journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, SNM Abdi, Prem Shankar Jha, Rupesh Kumar Singh, former minister Yashwant Sinha and Ipsa Shatakshi, who are reported to be on the potential list of snoop targets of Pegasus spyware, had also approached the top court along with The Editors Guild of India (EGI) among others.
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