PEGASUS – JUDICIAL OVERSIGHT
“If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself.”- George Orwell, 1984 This is how the judgement on the Pegasus saga started. Can there be any secret in the government which is known only to one person? The processes, the procurements, expenditure incurred and substantive arguments remain deep in the government files for posterity. The founding fathers of governments and governance globally have found its strength in the quality of documentation and that it remains broadly for all times to come. From the classified to the getting unclassified, confidential or otherwise, lies clearly elaborated and who has the authority to access and for what purpose.
Judicial oversight cannot be wished away however much we want it to look like judicial overreach. Substantiating every single act in the government by the laws and the rule book is the sine qua non of every governance even if it may be cumbersome at times. For sure, it serves the public good and it is only for that purpose the governments exist. It is always said that the government’s orders should be a speaking order. It should be able to speak for itself and it does not need any crutches. How can affidavits be different? It should be the true sequence of events and should have all the facts directed, required and to be put forth. It is on oath. And certainly judicial proceedings based on it can very easily determine whether the purpose is being served or it is turning out to be a wild goose chase.
Help facilitate the justice delivery mechanism is its quest to deliver justice, is one of the many responsibilities of the state. There is nothing adversarial about it, governments have been questioned for their action since times immemorial and it will keep happening for all times to come. In the instant Pegasus saga, lots of water has already flown during the parliamentary session and debates in the public domain ad nauseum. The Supreme Court broadly rejected the request for an internal probe and threw some light on the bland nature of the affidavits. Great personal efforts have been made to constitute a professional and neutral panel. The court intervention is to ”uphold the constitutional aspirations and the rule of law” without being *”consumed in (the) political rhetoric.”
The court has highlighted three imperatives with alacrity. On all the three depends the democratic health of the nation. Privacy has already been declared a fundamental right in a landmark judgement a few years ago. This is the litmus test. The first key point raised is the right to privacy of citizens. The second important point raised is the freedom of press including the right of journalists to ensure protection of the sources. The court has raised another critical point as to the ”limits of national security as an alibi by the Government to block disclosure of facts related to citizen’s rights.” The findings of the panel would go a long way in defining the democratic trajectory of the nation.
JUDICIAL OVERSIGHT IS THE FINAL REMEDY.