Ruling BJP on Wednesday welcomed the Supreme Court’s move to constitute an expert committee to conduct a “thorough inquiry” into allegations of use of Pegasus software for unauthorised surveillance, saying that the panel would look into the “false narrative” created by “vested interests” in the issue.
“The government had given the affidavit which categorically said that there was an attempt to create a false narrative by people with vested interest on the Pegasus issue and it would be fair to appoint an expert committee to counter this narrative. The court today appointed a committee. We welcome it,” BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said.
Referring to the affidavit filed by the government in the court on the issue, Patra said: “The affidavit clearly said it was a manufactured controversy based on some conjectures, surmises and unsubstantiated reports. The committee is to look into it, and will do its investigation. The BJP believes in democratic values…Truth will prevail.”
Maintaining that the State does not get a free pass every time the spectre of national security is raised, the apex court on Wednesday set up an inquiry headed by a retired judge into the allegations that Pegasus software was used to snoop on journalists, activists and politicians in India. The government had refused to probe the allegation despite a demand from a number of Opposition parties for it. The issue had disrupted the Monsoon session of Parliament which ended up as a washout.
But Patra said that the government had suggested a committee to look into the allegations as they were raised by vested interests to create a false narrative.
However, BJP’s ally JD(U) welcomed the order saying that it upheld the constitutional rights of the citizens. “We welcome the order. The Supreme Court has upheld the right to privacy, which is a constitutional right. The court has held that it has to be protected at every level,” JD(U) leader K C Tyagi told indianexpress.com. Tyagi said that Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar was one of the first leaders who sought a probe into the allegations.
The Centre had stonewalled persistent demands by Opposition parties for an inquiry, or even a debate in Parliament, on the revelations made by a global media investigation on possible surveillance of phones using the Pegasus spyware developed by an Israeli cyber-intelligence company, NSO Group. The BJP, which had maintained that Pegasus spyware was a “non-issue”, was embarrassed when Kumar backed the opposition demand for a probe and a debate in Parliament over the issue.
Patra ridiculed Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for his statements welcoming the Supreme Court order. “Rahul Gandhi did not go to the court taking the issue, nor did the Congress party… Today, on a decision of the Supreme Court, Rahul Gandhi again uttered the same words, which he always does against the BJP and its government,” Patra alleged.