Citing national security concerns "does not mean that the state gets a free pass every time the spectra of national security is raised. National security is not a bugbear that the judiciary shies away from, by virtue of its mere mention. Although this court should be circumspect in encroaching the area of national security, no omnibus prohibition can be called against judicial review", the Supreme Court said today, while constituting an expert committee led by Justice RV Ravindran, to investigate the usage of Pegasus by the Government of India against its own citizens. The interim order was passed by a bench comprising Chief Justice NV Ramana and Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli. The court rejected Shyam Divan's pleading (Prof Jagdeep Chhokar's petition) asking the government to file an affidavit, while deciding to constitute the committee. "The mere invocation of national security by the state does not render the court a mute spectator." The court pointed out that in response to the facts placed by the petitioners, there has been no specific denial by the Union of India. There has only been an omnibus denial, which it said cannot be sufficient. "The respondent Union of India must necessarily plead and prove the facts and the information sought must be kept secret as their divulgence would affect national security concerns", it added. The matter is to be listed after 8 weeks. The Expert Committee The court said that it was an uphill task to find experts who are both independent and…
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