Since the Pegasus project was revealed, calls for an independent investigation into the revelations have only increased as the issue could have a significant impact on the state of surveillance and privacy in the country.
John Brittas, a Rajya Sabha MP for the Communist Party of India (Marxist), filed a public interest litigation (PIL) * in the Supreme Court of India for the Pegasus revelations on July 24th under a live law report.
The PIL (seen a copy of MediaNama) is praying for an investigation into the Pegasus problem after news reports revealed that Pegasus was used to sniff (or, in some cases, possibly target). Journalists, Activists, politicians, business people, constitutional officials and others
Pegasus is a military spyware created by an Israeli company called. was developed NSO group she has clarified that it only sells the spyware to audited governments and their agencies. A consortium of 17 news organizations led by Forbidden stories examined a leaked list of 50,000 phone numbers identified by NSO group customers as targets or potential targets of Pegasus spyware.
Why does it matter? The use of Pegasus against journalists, activists, political leaders, business people, scientists, among others, has, according to the Editors Guild of India. In addition, the Government of India does not have any any categorical rejection around the use of Pegasus by government agencies, let alone order an investigation into the matter.
What does the PIL say?
In the written petition, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and the Ministry of Communications were named as defendants in the case.
Brittas has petitioned to express concern about the way the government has responded to news reports about Pegasus. The petition names the statement made by the IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw delivered in the Lok Sabha as “evasive”.
The petition also states that the problem is a violation of the right to privacy that is under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.
“The statement neither denied nor admitted the snooping. The government has inappropriately trusted the company that owns the alleged spyware technology. The government has not ordered an investigation into the incident. “- The petition from Rajya Sabha MP John Brittas is mentioned.
In one (n Interview with the Economic Timesthe MP from Rajya Sabha said the allegations would have a deterrent effect on freedom of expression and expression. “It seems our money is being used to spy on us. All of the vital organs of democracy seem to have been the target of the sniff, ”he added in the interview.
Brittas went on to claim that despite the grave allegations related to the Pegasus affair, the government had failed to investigate the matter. He also alleged that allegations led to two conclusions – either the government or a foreign agency was snooping.
“If it was done by the government, it was in an unauthorized way. If snooping was carried out by a foreign authority, then this is an act of external aggression and must be treated seriously, ”stressed Brittas.
Pegasus PILs in the Supreme Court
Brittas is neither the first nor the only person to turn to the Supreme Court about the Pegasus revelations. There are two more petitions that have been filed with the Supreme Court and another from a Pegasus target could be filed shortly.
- Lawyer Manohar Lal Sharma was that first in line Request an SC-supervised SIT investigation to investigate news reports of Pegasus’ use against journalists, activists and political leaders. He reported problems related to the purchase and use of Pegasus spyware in his petition.
- News Editors N Ram and Sashi Kumar filed a petition requesting the Supreme Court to instruct the central government to recognize whether the government or any of its agencies have obtained a license to use Pegasus. The petition also calls for a judicial investigation into the matter, led by an incumbent or retired SC judge.
- Independent journalist Rupesh Kumar Singh is considering petitioning the Center for Supreme Court alleged invasion of privacy. His phone number along with his wife’s and wife’s sister numbers are on the leaked list potential targets according to The Wire. Singh informs The telegraph that he’s already speaking to Colin Gonsalves, a senior Supreme Court attorney, about his petition.
Further demands for an investigation into the Pegasus scandal
Calls for an independent judicial investigation into the snooping have grown even stronger since it was first reported on July 18. Opposition parties, journalists, internet advocates, and civil society groups all have behaved the requirement given the seriousness of the violations listed in the reports.
- President of the Congress P. Chidambaram tweeted that the only government that doesn’t care about Pegasus is the Indian government. He called on the government to either request a joint parliamentary committee investigation or to ask the Supreme Court to appoint an acting judge to investigate the case, an NDTV report said.
The only government not to worry is the government of India!
Is it because the government was fully aware of the snooping and doesn’t need any further information from Israel or the NSO group?
– P. Chidambaram (@PChidambaram_IN) July 26, 2021
- The chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on information technology Shashi Tharoor rolled into one interview with The Wire said that “the best thing would be to appoint an acting judge from the Supreme Court to conduct an independent investigation into the Pegasus Exposé.”
Meanwhile it is Government of West Bengal has already established a judicial panel, chaired by retired Supreme Court Justice Madan Bhimarao Lokur, to investigate the Pegasus spyware range, according to a report by. to investigate The cable Election strategist Prashant Kishor’s cell phone was hacked. Kishor was instrumental in winning the Trinamool Congress in this year’s state elections. The report also revealed that the phone number of Mamata Banerjee’s nephew of West Bengal, Abhishek Banerjee, “was selected as a potential sniff target.”
*Disclaimer: Nikhil Pahwa, founding editor of MediaNama, has been asked to help draft petitions related to the Pegasus spyware scandal.