Communist Party of India (Marxist) member in the Rajya Sabha John Brittas has moved the Supreme Court demanding a court-monitored probe by a special investigation team (SIT) into the reports of snooping of activists, journalists and politicians using the Israeli spyware Pegasus.
“If the Pegasus spyware was used in an unauthorised manner that is in violation of fundamental rights under Articles 19(1)(a) and 21 and also as a slap on the face of the right to privacy upheld by this Hon’ble Court in Puttaswamy (right to privacy) case. There is also violation of the provisions of IT Act& Indian Telegraph Act for which strict penal action needs to be done after an immediate, independent and transparent,” read the petition by Brittas.
The global collaborative investigative project has revealed that Pegasus spyware targeted over 300 mobile phone numbers in India including that of two serving Ministers in the Narendra Modi government, three Opposition leaders, one constitutional authority, 40 journalists, rights activists, lawyers and business persons.
The Pegasus Project is a ground-breaking collaboration by more than 80 journalists from 17 media organisations in 10 countries including Indian website The Wire coordinated by Forbidden Stories, a Paris-based media non-profit, with the technical support of Amnesty International, who conducted cutting- edge forensic tests on mobile phones to identify traces of the spyware.
Brittas’s petition has referred to statements by Union minister for electronics and information technology Ashwini Vaishnav in Parliament, complaining that the government has neither denied nor admitted buying and using the spyware.
“It is only an evasive statement from the government. The government has unequivocally accepted the statement of the company, NSO, which owns the alleged spyware technology and blindly accepted their version without any investigation,” according to the petition.
“As the interceptions are said to be done in the gadgets of judges and supreme court staffer there is a strong interference with the administration of justice. This is unprecedented and shocking (for) the conscience of the judicial system,” added the petition.
The petition is yet to be admitted by the Supreme Court of India and it has not been listed for a hearing so far.