Pegasus Scandal: Centre files affidavit in the Apex Court, denies allegations

The Union Government has unequivocally denied all the allegations and will constitute an expert committee on the Pegasus Scandal, the affidavit read

The centre has unequivocally denied all allegations on Pegasus snooping scandal in its two-page affidavit today.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that the Union Government will constitute an expert committee on Pegasus snooping scandal to analyze all aspects of the issue while representing the centre in the court today.

The Affidavit Filed On Pegasus Scandal

The affidavit filed by the central government reads that allegations made in the PIL were “based on conjectures and surmises or on other unsubstantiated media reports or incomplete or uncorroborated material.”

According to NDTV, the affidavit also reads, “to dispel any wrong narrative spread by certain vested interests and with an object of examining the issues raised”, the government will constitute a committee of experts in the field to go into all aspects of the issue.” The affidavit cited the parliamentary statement by the Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnav.

The government has said to the court that there is no requirement of any further action on the PIL as the petitioners have not made out any case on the issue. They have claimed that the Pegasus issue stands clarified on the parliament floor by the Union Minister of Railways, Communications and Electronics & Information Technology.

A bench of Justice Suryakant and Anirudh Bose and Chief Justice of India NV Ramana heard the matter.   

However, CJI Ramana said, “The government has not satisfied with whether Pegasus was used or not,” according to Bar & Bench. 

On which SG Tushar Mehta argued, “Whatever interception was done, done for national security. That’s all…” The bench will continue the hearing tomorrow.

The PIL filed by journalists and others On Pegasus

Senior journalists N Ram and Sashi Kumar had filed a PIL on the Pegasus scandal requesting direction to probe the alleged spyware attacks. A bench headed by CJI Ramana heard 10 such litigations on 5 August.

During the hearing, the bench has expressed its disappointment on the high-profile PILs filed. Most of the PILs were based on newspaper reports and other media clippings. According to TOI, the judges also questioned the delay in filing the PILs as the matter was in the public domain since 2019. Except for the Editors’ Guild PIL, none of the petitioners had any verifiable materials.

Journalists who were directly affected by the alleged snooping have also filed similar PILs. Four journalists namely Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, SNM Abdi, Prem Shankar Jha, and Rupesh Kumar Singh, and activist Ipsa Shatakshi has filed the PIL on 2 August, based on forensic reports stating that their phones were hacked.

Former RSS ideologue KN Govindacharya has asked for the revival of his 2019 petition to the Apex Court. The petition sought a court-monitored investigation into the Pegasus. IT also sought lodging of FIR against Facebook, WhatsApp, NSO Group, and others involved in snooping scandal.

Govindacharya has said the Pegasus surveillance amounted to cyber terrorism and is a punishable offense under the IT Act as its breaches the privacy of Indians. 

Pegasus Scandal Disrupted the Parliament

The monsoon session of the parliament grabbed national headlines over protests on alleged government role in the Pegasus scandal. Opposition tore papers, staged walkouts, and raised slogans hampering discussions on bills and public issues. This has forced the end of the session sine die.

After the premature end to the parliament, Congress-led the opposition protest just outside the premises on the alleged manhandling of their female MPs by the security personals. CCTV footage revealed that the claims made by Congress were false.

A media consortium including national and foreign publications presented a list of 300 contact numbers as potential targets of the alleged spyware attack. The list never claimed to confirm interceptions of the contact numbers.

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