[Pegasus] "Will Formulate Committee of Experts to dispel false narratives spread by certain vested interests": Centre tells Supreme Court

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In a batch of pleas seeking Court monitored Probe into the Pegasus Controversy, Centre has denied all allegations stating that the petitions are based on “conjectures and surmises or on other unsubstantiated media reports or uncorroborated material”. It has been added that in order to “dispel false narratives by certain vested interests,” Union of India will constitute a Committee of Experts, which will go in to all aspects of the issue.

Filed through the Addl. Secretary, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Dr. Rajendra Kumar, affidavit by the Centre adds Statement on “Alleged use of spyware Pegasus to compromise phone data of some persons as reported in Media on 18th July 2021” as made  in the House of Parliament.

“The basis of this report is that there is a consortium which has got access to a leaked database of 50,000 phone numbers.

The allegation is that individuals linked to these phone numbers were being spied upon. However, the report says that: The presence of a phone number in the data does not reveal whether a device was infected with Pegasus or subject to an attempted hack. Without subjecting a phone to this technical analysis, it is not possible to conclusively state whether it witnessed an attack attempt or was successfully compromised.

Therefore, the report itself clarifies that presence of a number does not amount to snooping.”

On 19th July 2021, a consortium of 17 international media organizations including an Indian news portal published an investigation around a leaked list of phone numbers from across the world, named the Pegasus Project.

These numbers in the leaked list are allegedly the “target list” of phones hacked /to be hacked by the Pegasus spyware product sold by Israel’s NSO Group.

The target list said to contain the numbers of 136 prominent politicians, judges, journalists, businessmen, rights activists etc.

NSO Group, who owns ‘Pegasus Spyware’, was sued by WhatsApp and Facebook in 2019 before the US Californian Court for exploiting its platform to carry out remote surveillances. NSO claimed sovereign immunity as its products were sold only to governments and state agencies. However, The Californian Court ruled in favour of WhatsApp and dismissed NSO’s claim.

Also Read: Pegasus Petitions: CJI NV Ramana express displeasure at petitioners' expressing opinions publicly in sub-judice case(s), says "All sides will face music"

Also Read: [Pegasus Controversy] DMK MP Thirumavalavan seeks AG KK Venugopal’s consent to initiate contempt case against NSO Group, Cabinet Secretary and Home Secretary

Case Title: ML Sharma v. PM | N. Ram v. UOI | Editors Guild of India v. UOI