New Delhi [India], January 30 (ANI): Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury on Sunday wrote to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla and demanded that a privilege motion be initiated against Union Minister of Information Technology Ashwini Vaishnaw for "deliberately misleading the House on Pegasus issue".
In his letter, Chowdhury said that the New York Times on Friday (January 28) reported that the Indian Government bought the Israeli spyware in 2017 as part of a 2-billion-dollar package for weapons.
Stressing that the Pegasus issue had rocked the Monsoon Session of Parliament last year as the Opposition parties demanded a discussion on the scandal, the LoP said, "The Government, on the floor of the House, always maintained that it had nothing to do with the Pegasus Spyware and it never bought the spyware from the NSO Group."
"The Modi Government also lied to the Supreme Court when it was directly questioned about the purchase and deployment of Pegasus. In a sworn affidavit, the Government said 'unequivocally, we deny any and all of the allegations against the Government' on the Pegasus issue," he added.
Keeping the latest revelations by New York Times as the basis of his request, Chowdhury said, "it appears that the Modi Government has misled the Parliament and the Supreme Court and lied to the people of India."
"I demand that a Privilege Motion may be initiated against the Minister of Information Technology for deliberately misleading the House on the Pegasus issue," he demanded.
Notably, after the US newspaper report regarding the alleged Pegasus spyware purchase deal surfaced, lawyer ML Sharma moved the Supreme Court seeking direction to register FIR and probe the matter.
The petition said the alleged India-Israel deal was not approved by Parliament and, therefore, needs to be cancelled and money recovered.
Several pleas were filed last year, seeking inquiry headed by a sitting or retired judge of the top court to investigate the alleged snooping.
The pleas had said that the targeted surveillance using military-grade spyware is an unacceptable violation of the right to privacy which has been held to be a fundamental right under Articles 14, 19 and 21 by the Supreme Court in the KS Puttaswamy case.
In July 2021, names of several Opposition leaders including Rahul Gandhi and over 40 Indian journalists appeared on the leaked list of potential targets for surveillance by an unidentified agency using Pegasus spyware, according to a report published in The Wire.
However, the Union IT Minister had said there is 'no substance' in the media report regarding the use of Pegasus on WhatsApp, adding that the report was an attempt to malign Indian democracy and its well-established institutions.
Later, journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, SNM Abdi, Prem Shankar Jha, Rupesh Kumar Singh, and Ipsa Shatakshi, who are reported to be on the potential list of snoop targets of Pegasus spyware, had also approached the Supreme Court along with The Editors Guild of India (EGI) among others. (ANI)