After a global media storm over Pegasus spyware, the Indian government is in a tight spot about its stand on military-grade Israeli spyware. There are also no clear answers on whether the government of India bought Pegasus.
Today, during the Pegasus Supreme Court hearing, the government filed an affidavit saying it will set up a committee of experts to look into the controversy. However, the government still did not accept or reject its purchase and use of Pegasus spyware. Rather, its affidavit filed with the court discredits the Pegasus reports by calling them “incomplete” and “uncorroborated material.”
In its affidavit, the government did not take a stand on the use of spyware. This led the petitioners to reject the affidavit, and the court to note that the government does not want to take a stand on the matter.
Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta representing the government told the court that the petitioners are seeking information that is sensitive in nature. He added that the information was a matter of “national security.”
Petitioners Don’t Want Govt. Committee On Pegasus
A story published on Live Law points out three reasons why petitioners in the Pegasus row have rejected the government affidavit. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal gave the following reasons for rejecting the government’s filing:
1. The submitted affidavit does not clarify whether the government purchased and used Pegasus or not.
2. The affidavit discredits reports of Pegasus use by calling them “conjectures and surmises” but does not justify its basis for saying so.
3. The petitioners don’t want a government that might have used Pegasus to form a committee to look into the same.
Seeing how the government has been ducking the question, these reasons sound valid. The government of India is discrediting any reports on Pegasus but not giving a clear answer to the questions of it using the software. The Pegasus Supreme Court petition has been adjourned for 17 August to determine whether the government should filed a more detailed affidavit.