INDIA: Member of Parliament and national secretary member of the party Binoy Viswam filed a privilege motion on Monday against Union Electronics & Information Technology minister Ashwini Vaishnaw for ‘misleading’ the House on the Pegasus snooping issue.
The motion came following a New York Times report published on Friday saying India purchased the Israeli spyware from NSO Group in 2017.
Earlier, on Sunday, Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury wrote to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla seeking a privilege motion against Vaishnaw for “deliberately misleading the House on the Pegasus issue”.
In his notice, Viswam said, “As a matter concerning grave allegations of snooping that violate Constitutional rights and safeguards, the Minister’s deliberate attempt to mislead the Members of Parliament constitutes a breach of privilege,” as reported by Hindustan Times.
During the monsoon session of the Parliament in July last year, Vaishnaw had made a suo motu statement in both the Houses saying there was “no substance” to media reports regarding the use of Pegasus.
He had also assured that illegal spying was impossible in India and that the reports were an “attempt to malign Indian democracy and its well-established institutions”.
The New York Times report , that came ahead of Parliament’s Budget Session beginning January 31, said that Pegasus and a missile system were the ‘centerpieces’ of a roughly $2 billion deal between India and Israel.
A report surfaced by a global consortium of media groups in July last year had revealed that the spyware had been used by various governments to spy on notable citizens including their opponents, journalists, and social activits, among others.
The Wire had conducted the investigation in India and reported that among the potential list of targets under the malware were then Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, political strategist Prashant Kishor, and Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw who was not appointed a minister until then. The list also included the names of around 40 journalists.