NEW DELHI: A parliamentary standing committee, chaired by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, will question officials of the Ministry of Information and Technology and the Ministry of Home Affairs in connection with the case of alleged illegal surveillance of journalists and political leaders using the Pegasus software.
A meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology has been called on July 28. Officials of the Ministry of Information Technology, Home and Communications have been summoned to the meeting.
The agenda for the meeting is ‘Evidence of the representatives of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Communication (Department of Telecommunications) on the subject of ‘Citizens’ data security and privacy’.
The meeting is scheduled to begin at 4 pm.
Since the case came to light through a report by The Wire on Sunday, several opposition leaders have demanded an independent probe into the matter.
The names of over 40 Indian journalists and politicians appeared on the leaked list of potential targets for surveillance by an unidentified agency using Pegasus spyware, according to the report.
According to the report, the journalists who were targeted work for some news organisations in the country including Hindustan Times, The Hindu, India Today, Indian Express and Network18. Many of them cover matters related to Defence, Home Ministry, Election Commission and Kashmir among others.
However, Union IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Monday 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.
On July 19, the Bharatiya Janata Party hit out at the Congress for accusing the government of its role in the alleged illegal surveillance of journalists using Pegasus spyware and said that there is not a shred of evidence that shows the linkage of the government or the BJP.
Outrightly rejecting the allegations, BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad termed it as a pre-planned strategy by some to raise the Pegasus story just before the Monsoon session of the Parliament.