The Supreme Court on Friday, May 20, extended the time for submitting the report by the apex court-appointed technical and supervisory committees to look into the Pegasus row, saying 29 infected mobile phones are being examined for the spyware and the process should be over in four weeks.

A bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana said the technical committee has been examining mobiles for the spyware and has also recorded statements of persons including some journalists. Standard operating procedure for testing the ‘infected devices’ will be finalised too, it said, adding the probe by the technical committee may be over by May end and then the supervisory judge would be making a report for the perusal of the bench.

Preferably, the process by the technical committee should be over in four weeks and the supervisory judge should be informed. The supervisory judge shall submit his report thereafter. “List sometime in July,” the CJI said.

The apex court, in October last year, had ordered a probe into the alleged use of the spyware. An international media consortium had reported that over 300 verified Indian mobile phone numbers were on the list of potential targets for surveillance using the Pegasus spyware.

The Supreme Court, in its order passed on October 27, 2021, had constituted a technical committee under the oversight of Justice (retd) RV Raveendran to enquire, investigate, and determine certain matters relating to the complaint of the unauthorised use of Pegasus spyware against Indian citizens, in the matter of Manohar Lal Sharma vs. Union of India and others.

Justice Raveendran is overseeing the functioning of the technical committee and he is assisted by Alok Joshi, former IPS officer; and Dr Sundeep Oberoi, Chairman, Sub Committee in International Organisation of Standardisation/International Electro-Technical Commission/Joint Technical Committee.

The three members of the technical committee are Dr Naveen Kumar Chaudhary, Professor (Cyber Security and Digital Forensics) and Dean, National Forensic Sciences University, Gandhinagar; Dr Prabaharan P, Professor (School of Engineering), Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Amritapuri, Kerala; and Dr Ashwin Anil Gumaste, Institute Chair, Associate Professor (Computer Science and Engineering), Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay.

A batch of petitions has been submitted, including those by advocate ML Sharma, CPI (M) MP John Brittas, journalist N Ram, former IIM professor Jagdeep Chokkar, Narendra Mishra, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, Rupesh Kumar Singh, SNM Abdi and Editors’ Guild of India, seeking an independent probe into the Pegasus snooping allegations.