The Editors’ Guild of India has gone to the Supreme Court, seeking an investigation into the Pegasus spyware scandal. The Guild has asked the court to form a Special Investigation Team to probe the issue. It also wants the judges to seek details from the government on the spyware contract and a list of those targetted. The court will hear the matter on Thursday.
This adds to the clutch of petitions in the court on the explosive reports by a consortium of global media houses last month, which alleged that a host of opposition politicians, journalists and others were targets of the spyware. The government has come under pressure after the software vendor NSO said its clients are only “vetted” governments and their agencies.
Earlier, senior journalists N Ram and Sashi Kumar, CPM MP John Brittas and advocate ML Sharma also wanted the court to ask the government to disclose whether it obtained a licence for the spyware or used it – directly or indirectly – to conduct surveillance of any kind.
Senior journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta and four others, who were on the alleged list of targets for surveillance by the Israeli military-grade spyware, have also filed the petitions in the court seeking that the installation or use of spyware be declared “illegal and unconstitutional”.
The unauthorised use of surveillance by government agencies have violated their fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution, their petition read.
According to reports by news portal “The Wire”, Congress’s Rahul Gandhi, poll strategist Prashant Kishor, two serving Union Ministers, an ex-Election Commissioner and 40 journalists were among names in an alleged list of potential targets. More than 142 people in India were on the alleged list.
Forensic analysis of some of the cellphones by the Security Lab of Amnesty International has confirmed security breach, media houses involved in the investigation have said.
The row, which erupted last month, has snowballed into a huge political controversy that has had the opposition up in arms. The Monsoon Session has been hugely disrupted as the opposition is pressing its demands for a discussion on the matter in parliament.