From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Right to privacy and judicial review
Mains level : Paper 2- Balancing the fundamental rights of the citizens with national security concerns
When the bench of the Chief Justice of India passed an order appointing a committee in the Pegasus matter, it served the interest of every Indian.
What led to the appointment of committee by the Supreme Court
- Pegasus has allegedly been used against politicians and individuals across the globe, including against politicians, journalists and other private individuals in India.
- The issue rocked Parliament, but the government was not willing to share any information pertaining to the software or its use, citing national security as a reason.
- The alleged victims of the software turned to the Supreme Court, and prayed for setting up of an independent enquiry.
- The government, on being called upon by the Supreme Court, cited national security, contending that any information it let out would become a matter of public debate, which could be used by terror groups to hamper national security.
- Its unrelenting stand left the court with no option but to take a call on whether to blindly accept the government’s refusal to share no information whatsoever, or lean in favour of a citizen’s right to privacy, a fundamental right guaranteed under the Constitution.
- The Supreme Court chose the latter course.
Balancing the fundamental rights nad judicial review with national security
- The Supreme Court has observed that “the state cannot get a free pass every time the spectre of national security is raised”.
- It goes on to say that national security “cannot be the bugbear that the judiciary shies away from, by virtue of its mere mentioning. Although this court should be circumspect in encroaching upon the domain of national security, no omnibus prohibition can be called for against judicial review”.
The Pegasus order upholding the individual’s right to a life of dignity and privacy, is music to the ears of those who believe in constitutional values and rule of law.
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