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Congress MP moves adjournment motion in Parliament to discuss Pegasus spyware and Indian govt’s alleged role in it

In the wake of the Pegasus exposé, the Indian Parliament has witnessed chaotic proceedings with an increasing number of MPs demanding a judicial probe of the issue. 

Indian National Congress MP Manickam Tagore on Monday filed an adjournment motion in the Parliament’s Lok Sabha to discuss the Pegasus spyware attack that was perpetrated on many Indians and the Indian government’s alleged role in it, the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee announced.

Why this matters? Tensions have been high between the government and opposition parties since the start of the Parliament’s monsoon session on Monday, following reports that 300 verified Indian numbers were listed for potential surveillance using the NSO Group’s Pegasus Spyware. This has led to disrupted proceedings of Parliament, with the Rajya Sabha being adjourned three times in one day. There were similar disruptions in the Lok Sabha as well. Many members of the opposition have asked for a debate and an investigation into the use of the Pegasus spyware to reportedly target opposition leaders such as Rahul Gandhi as well as several Indian politicians, activists, and journalists.

In his notice, Tagore who is a Member of Parliament from the Virudhunagar Constituency in Tamil Nadu, said that he sought an adjournment, “to discuss the alleged role of the Government towards utilising Israeli Pegsus spyware as the weapon against Indian opposition leaders, Chief Justice of India, Election Commissioner of India, CBI Director, women journalists, MPs of BJP and direct the government to constitute Supreme Court monitored probe.”

What is an adjournment motion? According to the Lok Sabha, “The primary aim of an adjournment motion is to draw the attention of the House to a recent matter of urgent public importance having serious consequences and with regard to which a motion or a resolution with proper notice will be too late.”

The Pegasus spyware controversy has gripped the attention of the country and the same has reflected in the proceedings of the Parliament. A few days back, Trinamool Congress MP Shantanu Sen snatched papers from Union IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw that contained his statement on the Pegasus issue.

An NDTV report said that Vaishnaw had decided to table his statement as he was unable to read it because of protests from the Opposition. Subsequently, due to the disruption, the proceedings were adjourned, following which the TMC MP tried to snatch the papers from Vaishnaw.

“Hon’ble speaker sir in conclusion I humbly submit that the publishers of the report states that it cannot say that the numbers in the published list were under surveillance. Second, the company whose technology was alleged used has denied these claims out rightly and the time tested procedures of our country are well-established to ensure that unauthorised surveillance cannot occur.” — IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw in Lok Sabha.

Another TN MP urged judicial investigation into Pegasus

Lok Sabah MP Thol Thirumavalavan who represents the Mangalur LS constituency in Tamil Nadu urged the Indian government to order an independent judicial investigation into the Pegasus controversy. In a statement, the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) president had said, “Supreme Court had ruled that privacy is a fundamental right and it is illegal for Indian government to have used Pegasus to violate the privacy of its citizens by snooping on them. #VCK urges the Union government to order an independent judicial investigation.”

More reading on Pegasus

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Among other subjects, I cover the increasing usage of emerging technologies, especially for surveillance in India

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