Congress Member of Parliament (MP) Manish Tewari on Monday took to Twitter and said that the Pegasus Project row deserves two parallel probes. "First by a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to look at violation of privacy and question of parliamentary oversight over intellegence agencies" and "second by a sitting Supreme Court (SC) judge to fix criminal culpability of those responsible", he said.
Tewari's tweet came after more than 300 verified mobile phone numbers, including those of two serving ministers, over 40 journalists, three opposition leaders and scores of business persons and activists in India were allegedly targetted for hacking through an Israeli spyware Pegasus.
Meanwhile, a second set of explosive revelations on Monday said the names of former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, election strategist Prashant Kishor, Mamata Banerjee's nephew Abhishek Banerjee, IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, minister of state for Jal Shakti Prahlad Singh Patel, personal secretary to Vasundhara Raje Scindia, officer on special duty (OSD) for Smriti Irani, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Pravin Togadia, and many others were among the 300 verified Indian numbers listed as potential targets for surveillance during 2017-2019 by a client of the Israel-based NSO group, reported The Wire.
Meanwhile, IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw has dismissed media reports on the use of Pegasus software to snoop on Indians, saying the allegations levelled just ahead of the Monsoon session of Parliament are aimed at maligning Indian democracy. In a suo motu statement in Lok Sabha, Vaishnaw said that with several checks and balances being in place, "any sort of illegal surveillance" by unauthorised persons is not possible in India.
"A highly sensational story was published by a web portal yesterday night.... The press report appeared a day before the Monsoon session of the Parliament. This cannot be a coincidence. In the past similar claims were made regarding the use of Pegasus on WhatsApp. Those reports have no factual basis and were categorically denied by all parties.... The press report of July 18, 2021 also appeared to be an attempt to malign the Indian democracy and a well-established institution," the minister said.