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Pegasus Project Report: Centre denies snooping allegations in its affidavit in Supreme Court, says will set up probe committee

In its two-page affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, the government also informed the top court that it will soon set up a committee of experts to examine all issues raised in the Pegasus Project row to dispel any wrong narrative spread by certain vested interests.

August 16, 2021 / 12:33 PM IST
Supreme Court of India

Supreme Court of India

The Centre on August 16 unequivocally denied all allegations of using spyware to snoop on journalists, politicians, activists and court staff made against it by petitioners in the Pegasus Project report case.

In its two-page affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, the government also informed the top court that it will soon set up a committee of experts to examine all issues raised in the Pegasus Project row to dispel any wrong narrative spread by certain vested interests.

The Centre said the PILs by journalist N Ram, TMC leader Yashwant Sinha, Editors Guild and seven others have made allegations "based on conjectures, uncoordinated material or on other unsubstantiated media reports or incomplete or uncorroborated material".

"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 in the affidavit, according to reports.

A bench of Chief Justice N V Ramana and justices Surya Kant and Aniruddha Bose is hearing the batch of petitions. On August 10, the Apex court had taken exception over "parallel proceedings and debates" on social media by some petitioners who have sought an independent probe into the alleged snooping row.

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The government has also said that the issue stands clarified before the Parliament by the Minister of Electronics and IT and nothing more needs to be done by the Court on these petitions.

READ: In-Depth | Pegasus spyware scandal and growing chorus to regulate private surveillance 

An international media consortium has reported that over 300 verified Indian mobile phone numbers were on a list of potential targets for surveillance using Israeli firm's Pegasus spyware.

Opposition leaders including Rahul Gandhi, two Union ministers, Prahlad Singh Patel and Railways and IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnav, a former CBI chief, and at least 40 journalists are on the list on the leaked database of NSO.

Also, read Parliament Monsoon Session: Opposition blames Centre for deadlock, seeks debate on Pegasus in both Houses

The report released on July 18 led to a political row with Opposition parties protesting in both Houses of Parliament during the Monsoon Session of Parliament.

The Session that began on July 19 was marred by ruckus and uproar with Opposition members stalling proceedings in both the Houses demanding discussions on the Pegasus Project Report, farmers' agitation and price rise.

The Parliament was adjourned since die on August 11.
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