In the first-ever official response from the Central Government on the Pegasus scandal, the defence ministry has categorically denied having any transaction with NSO Group Technologies.
Several petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court against alleged illegal surveillance and hacking into the mobile phones of around 300 Indians using the Israel spyware Pegasus of the NSO group. The matter will now come up before the court tomorrow, on August 10. The CJI NV Ramana led Bench had also opined in the previous hearing that the allegations are serious if true.
The written response provided on August 9, by Ajay Bhatt, Minister of State in the Ministry of Defence, said, “Ministry of Defence has not had any transaction with NSO Group Technologies.” The government has received a lot of backlash since the news of this alleged snooping surfaced by Pegasus on journalists, former ministers, human rights activists, etc.
The petitions filed before the court have sought for a court monitored probe into the hacking investigations and some have also asked for the central government to disclose all materials and documents with respect to the investigation, and authorisation/orders provided by the government for the use of Pegasus.
On July 26, West Bengal became the first State to appoint a two-member Commission headed by retired judge of the Supreme Court, Justice Madan Lokur and Calcutta High Court Chief Justice Jyotirmay Bhattacharya to inquire into these Pegasus allegations. As per some media sources, the Commission released a public notice in all major newspapers last week, seeking information from the public and concerned stakeholders regarding the allegations.
The answer may be read here:
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