New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: The Centre on Monday told the Supreme Court that it does not wish to file a "detailed affidavit" in response to pleas filed in the top court seeking probe independent probe into the alleged Pegasus snooping row. Appearing for the Centre, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that government has "nothing to hide", adding that whether it used Pegasus or not "cannot be debated in affidavits" as it is not a matter for public discussion.

"Such issues of whether Centre was using Pegasus or not cannot be debated in affidavits and can be looked into by domain experts...whether it has been done by A software or B Software cannot be said on affidavit. Domain experts unconnected with the government will be looking it and we will place all before them," Mehta was quoted as saying by Bar and Bench.

In Centre's response, the top court said that it did not want the government to disclose anything which compromises the "internal or external national integrity". A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana also said that "domain experts unconnected with the government will be looking it and we will place all before them".

"We are not interested to know about national interest issues, but we are only on the face of allegations that some software was used to snoop certain citizens like lawyers etc. We wanted to know if it's done to see if it's permissible under law," CJI Ramana was quoted as saying by Bar and Bench.

On September 7, the apex court had granted more time to the Centre to decide on filing a further response on the petitions after Mehta had said that due to some difficulties he could not meet the officials concerned to take a decision on the filing of the second affidavit.

The Centre had earlier filed a limited affidavit in the top court saying the pleas seeking an independent probe into the Pegasus snooping allegations are based on "conjectures and surmises or on other unsubstantiated media reports or incomplete or uncorroborated material".

It had stated that the position on the issue has already been clarified in Parliament by Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw. With a view to dispelling any wrong narrative spread by certain vested interests and examining the issues raised, the government will constitute a committee of experts, it had said.

The pleas are related to reports of alleged snooping by government agencies on eminent citizens, politicians and scribes by using Israeli firm NSO's spyware Pegasus. An international media consortium has reported that over 300 verified Indian mobile phone numbers were on the list of potential targets for surveillance using Pegasus spyware.

(With inputs from PTI)

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma