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Friday, December 3, 2021
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Former Union Minister Yashwant Sinha Comes Up With Petitioners For Inquiry On Pegasus

As the Supreme Court began hearing the matter on Thursday, former Union Minister Yashwant Sinha joined the chorus of petitioners who have asked for an inquiry into the Pegasus snooping scandal, stating that the charges were “serious if press reports are right.”

Mr Sinha also requested directions for the creation of an oversight mechanism to deal with any surveillance-related request made by any ministry or government agency, as well as a court-monitored investigation into allegations that an Israeli spyware – sold only to governments – was used in India to target opposition leaders, journalists, and others.

A number of petitions, including those filed by the Editors Guild of India and veteran journalists N Ram and Sashi Kumar, have asked for a special investigation into the incident.

The court took up the cases on Thursday, asking the petitioners if they had tried filing a criminal complaint in the subject and noting that one of the pleas mentioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah as parties.

The judges reminded senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who was representing N Ram and Sashi Kumar, that the petitioners in the case are “educated and knowledgeable” and that they should have put more effort into gathering more evidence.

“No doubt the allegations are serious in nature if the reports in the newspapers are correct,” they stated.

According to a report by 17 international news organisations, the Israeli spyware Pegasus was employed in attempted or successful smartphone intrusions employing software that allows for the extraction of messages, the recording of calls, and the covert activation of microphones.

The phones of opposition leaders like Rahul Gandhi, Supreme Court judges, ministers, and journalists were among the potential targets, according to sources. The dispute has fueled the opposition’s aggressive attacks on the government and brought parliament to a halt over demands for a credible investigation.

The government has refused this demand, claiming that a speech made in parliament by IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnav – one of the hacking’s potential targets – was adequate. The BJP has spent days trying to portray phone snooping as a “non-issue.”

The NSO Group, which owns Pegasus, acknowledges that the software is spyware and that it is used to hack phones, but claims that it only works with governments and government agencies. The Israeli firm claims that the list of potential targets circulated by media outlets around the world is untrue.

The Indian government has stated that reports of Pegasus being used against opposition leaders, journalists, and others have “no substance.” The veracity of the list of persons who were allegedly targeted cannot be independently verified by NDTV.

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