The Union government has denied allegations of snooping and illegal surveillance levelled against it in the Pegasus snooping row. Several petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court seeking an independent probe into the alleged Pegasus snooping matter.
The government, through an affidavit submitted by the Ministry of Electronics and IT’s additional secretary Rajendra Kumar, told the Supreme Court that the snooping allegations are based on conjectures and unsubstantiated media reports.
It also said that the allegations will be scrutinised by an experts group to dispel any wrong narrative. The Centre said it “unequivocally denies all allegations” made against the government by petitioners about using military-grade spyware to snoop on journalists, politicians, activists and court staff.
“Petitions in the issue are based on conjectures, surmises, or other unsubstantiated media reports or uncorroborated material. Centre to set up a committee to probe snooping allegations,” the Centre said.
The Pegasus snooping row
An international media consortium, including The Wire, has reported that over 300 verified Indian mobile phone numbers were on the list of potential targets for surveillance using Pegasus spyware. According to The Wire, phones of opposition leaders like Rahul Gandhi, Supreme Court judges, ministers, and journalists were among potential targets. The Opposition, including the Congress, had attacked the Narendra Modi government after the spooping row erupted.
Committee to probe the issue
The petitioners “have not made out any case”, the government told the court. But “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 said, citing the statement in parliament by Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw.
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