Veteran journalists N. Ram and Sashi Kumar have moved the Supreme Court seeking an independent probe by its sitting or retired judge into the alleged Pegasus snooping scandal.

The petition sought to investigate if the illegal hacking into the phones using the Pegasus spyware represented an attempt by agencies and organisations to muzzle and chill the exercise of free speech and expression of dissent in India.

The plea is likely to come up for hearing within the next few days.

It also sought directions to investigate if the illegal hacking into the phones, represented an attempt by agencies and organisations to muzzle and chill the exercise of free speech and expression of dissent in the country.

The plea argued that investigation involving several leading publications around the world has revealed that more than 142 Indians, including journalists, lawyers, government ministers, opposition politicians, constitutional functionaries and civil society activists, have been identified as potential targets for surveillance.

The plea said: “Such targeted surveillance using military-grade spyware is an unacceptable violation of the right to privacy which has been held to be a fundamental right under Articles 14, 19 and 21 by the Supreme Court in KS Puttaswamy v. Union of India.”

It contended that the attack prima facie constitutes an act of cyber-terrorism that has several grave political and security ramifications.

This is the third petition in the Supreme Court, which sought a probe into the Pegasus scandal.

Earlier, advocate M.L. Sharma and CPI-M Rajya Sabha member John Brittas had also moved the apex court seeking probe into the spying allegations.

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