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Pegasus row: Opposition welcomes Supreme Court's decision

The Pegasus spyware row erupted on July 18 after it was revealed that phones of Indian ministers, politicians, activists, businessmen and journalists were among those of 50,000 around the world potentially targeted
While the government offered to set up the panel, but have it report to the court, the apex court said it was setting up the panel itself. (Mint/Pradeep Gaur)
Updated on Oct 28, 2021 02:01 AM IST
ByHT Correspondent, New Delhi

Opposition leaders on Wednesday hailed the Supreme Court’s decision to form an expert committee to probe the use of Pegasus software in the country with former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi commenting that “the PM is not above the nation.”

“Pegasus is illegal. It is not legal in India to do snooping using Pegasus. So, we would like to know, why the Prime Minister is doing an illegal act. He is not above the nation. He is not above the institutions. Was this information that was coming going to the PM’s desk? It would be criminal if he was using it as personal tool,” said Gandhi.

The BJP pointed out that it was the government that first mooted the idea of an expert panel. Its national spokesperson Sambit Patra said: “The government in its affidavit to the SC had said “they are of the opinion that to end the false narrative of a certain vested group, it would be fair if a committee of experts is set up to look into the issue.”

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While the government offered to set up the panel, but have it report to the court, the apex court said it was setting up the panel itself.

While the BJP dubbed the Pegasus controversy as “manufactured” and based on “conjecture, surmises and unsubstantiated reports”, Gandhi claimed SC order vindicated the Congress’ stand and posed three questions. “Who authorized Pegasus, which agency, which person authorized Pegasus? Who are the victims of Pegasus and the final thing, which I think is very important, did any other country have access to information of our people, were they privy, was this data kept with them?”

The Pegasus spyware row erupted on July 18 after it was revealed that phones of Indian ministers, politicians, activists, businessmen and journalists were among those of 50,000 around the world potentially targeted by Pegasus, Israeli company NSO Group’s phone hacking software. In its affidavit to the court the government has neither confirmed nor denied the use of the spyware and also claimed any discussion on this would be against national interest.

Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’Brien tweeted, “BOOM. There you go. So the BJP (and not the Opposition) were solely responsible for DISRUPTING THE ENTIRE MONSOON SESSION of #Parliament.”

CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury termed the order a “scathing indictment” and tweeted, “the obduracy of the govt to answer if it had used Pegasus confirms it’s complicity. Committee must invite individuals & even foreign experts to testify. It must expeditiously complete the enquiry.”

Taking on Gandhi, Patra said, “Rahul Gandhi has nothing new to offer, he has the same vocabulary and the same phrase...”

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