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The Supreme Court on Friday stayed all proceedings before Justice Madan Lokur Commission, set up by the West Bengal government to inquire into the alleged interception of mobile phones using military grade spyware Pegasus, disapproving breach of undertaking by the state for halting the commission’s work when the SC was seized of the pan-India issue.
The West Bengal government had, in July 2021, set up a Commission of Inquiry (Lokur Commission), under the 1952 Act, to look into the alleged surveillance of phones using the Pegasus spyware developed by the Israeli cyber-intelligence company NSO Group.
Who can set up such commissions?
While both central and state governments can set up such Commissions of Inquiry, states are restricted by subject matters that they are empowered to legislate upon.
What are its powers?
Under The Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952, a Commission set up by the government shall have the powers of a civil court, while trying a suit under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.
What kind of subjects can a Commission probe?
Commissions set up by the central government can make an inquiry into any matter relatable to any of the entries in List I (Union List) or List II (State List) or List III (Concurrent List) in the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution, while Commissions set up by state governments can look into entries in List II or List III.
Pegasus inquiry commission matter is related to:
=> The West Bengal government has cited public order and police entries. While these subjects are in the State List, an argument could also be made that the subject matter of the inquiry essentially falls under the Central List.
=> Also, Entry 31 of the Union List deals with posts and telegraphs, telephones, wireless, broadcasting and other like forms of communication.
What value does such a Commission’s report have?
=> The findings of such commissions are normally tabled in the Assembly or Parliament, depending on who constituted it.
=> However, the government is not bound to make the report public.
=> The findings are not binding on the executive wither, but can be relied upon by courts as evidence.
By: ASRAF UDDIN AHMED ProfileResourcesReport error
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