NEW DELHI: With the Centre telling the Supreme Court that a group of experts will examine the issue of alleged snooping, the Congress on Monday asked whether “the offender will investigate himself” and demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi answer whether the Pegasus spyware was bought or not.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology in a two-page affidavit told a Supreme Court bench that “to dispel any wrong narrative spread by certain vested interests” and with an object of examining the issues raised, the Centre will constitute a committee of experts in the field which will go into all aspects of the issue.
Reacting to the development, Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala tweeted, “Mr.’SNOOP-BOND’, Pl tell the Nation this much – Did you or not buy Pegasus Spyware? How does it impact ‘National Security’?” “Mr.
‘SNOOPING-BOND’, Spying on Opposition, Spying on Judges, Spying on CBI Chief, Spying on Journalists, Spying on Union Min, Spying on Lawyers, Spying on Ex PM, Ex CM’s. How is this ‘National Security’? Can’t pull wool over the ‘truth’!” he said in another tweet, using the hashtag ‘PegasusSnoopingScandal’.
Asked about the development at a press conference, Surjewala said, “How can the cat guard the milk.”
“Does the respected Supreme Court not know that only those who spied will investigate now? Will the offender investigate himself?” he asked.
“Give a direct answer Modi ji, I again ask through television channels that the people of India want to know – did you buy Pegasus spyware or not?” he said.
In an affidavit filed before a bench of Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justices Surya Kant and Aniruddha Bose, the government said its position on the alleged Pegasus snooping has already been clarified in Parliament by IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw.
“A bare perusal of the captioned petition and other connected petitions makes it clear that the same are based on conjectures and surmises or on other unsubstantiated media reports or incomplete or uncorroborated material,” the affidavit said.
With a view to dispelling any wrong narrative spread by certain vested interests and with an object of examining the issues raised, the government will constitute a committee of experts, it said.
The Supreme Court said it cannot compel the “reluctant” Centre to file a detailed affidavit on pleas seeking information if Pegasus spyware was used to snoop on certain citizens and steps it took to probe the allegations.