Indian Supreme Court to Set Up Committee to Investigate Pegasus Spyware Scandal
12:53 GMT 23.09.2021 (Updated: 10:39 GMT 19.07.2022)
So far, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Indian government has been tight-lipped about the Pegasus snooping scandal after it was revealed that around 300 Indians, including politicians and activists, were being spied on through their phones.
The Supreme Court of India on Thursday said it will set up a technical expert committee to probe the Pegasus spyware scandal.
Next week, India's top court is set to pass an order on pleas relating to seeking an independent probe into the Pegasus snoopgate matter and establishing the committee.
Chief Justice N.V. Ramana told senior advocate C.U. Singh in court that some of the experts they had in mind for the committee wouldn't be able to participate, citing personal reasons.
The Pegasus row erupted on 18 July after a consortium of media outlets reported that Indian ministers, politicians, activists, businessmen, journalists, and others, including Rahul Gandhi, a key opposition leader, and Congress parliamentarian, had been potentially snooped on using the Israeli spyware Pegasus.
The Congress Party has been accusing the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led federal government of using the Pegasus spyware on Indian journalists and opposition leaders.
Congress along with other opposition parties even organised a "Mega March" last month urging PM Modi's government to break its silence over the Pegasus spyware scandal.
The Bharatiya Janata Party-led federal government denied all the allegations.
The top court has been hearing many petitions demanding an inquiry into allegations that an Indian client of the spyware used it to conduct illegal surveillance.
On 13 September, a bench led by the chief justice reserved its orders after the government said, "it had nothing to hide" but cited "national security" to declare that it would not file a detailed affidavit in response to the petitions.
The Israeli firm NSO Group developed the software Pegasus. The latter can target a smartphone surreptitiously and exploit flaws in its operating system or apps to take away a wide array of private data. It can also track the user's movements and record calls.
The global spy tool Pegasus was reported to have been used globally for the purposes of hacking the phones of government officials, journalists, and activists.