New Delhi, July 22 : Senior Congress leader and Lok Sabha MP Manish Tewari on Thursday gave an adjournment motion notice in the Lok Sabha to discuss Pegasus project.
Tewari gave the notice to move a motion for the adjournment of the business of the House for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent importance, namely “reports have pointed out that the government has procured the surveillance tool Pegasus developed by Israeli company NSO group for surveillance of journalists, civil society activists, politicians and supreme court judges”.
In his notice Tewari said that since the NSO group’s policy is that clients are confined to “vetted governments” only, it suggests that the spyware was used by the government and not any other private body.
He said, “Reputed agencies like Citizen Lab have found traces of the spyware on some of the devices that were attacked. It should be noted that this kind of surveillance classifies as hacking, which is what a spyware does and it would very much qualify as “unauthorised interception” or hacking as per Information Technology Act, 2000.”
He further said that the fact is that the government has not categorically denied that Pegasus has been used officially.
“Sir, this is a matter of grave concern and therefore I wish to raise the same,” Tewari added.
The issue triggered a stormy start to the Monsoon Session after a global collaborative investigative project revealed that Israeli company NSO Groups’ Pegasus spyware was targeted over 300 mobile phone numbers in India including that of two ministers in the Narendra Modi government, three Opposition leaders, constitutional authority, several journalists and business persons.
It snowballed on Tuesday after it came to the fore that in July 2019, phone numbers of Karnataka’s then deputy chief minister G. Parameshwara and the personal secretaries of the then chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy and former chief minister Siddaramaiah, were selected as possible targets for surveillance.
The Congress on Monday accused the government of “treason” and held Shah responsible for the snooping and hacking of phones of journalists, judges and politicians, and demanded a probe.
BJP leader and former IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad questioned the credentials of those behind the story as well as its timing, coming a day before Parliament’s Monsoon Session that began on Monday, as he accused the opposition party of hitting a “new low” in making baseless allegations.