Indian Supreme Court Sets Up Independent Committee to Probe Pegasus Spyware Scandal
12:25 GMT 27.10.2021 (Updated: 12:26 GMT 27.10.2021)
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The Supreme Court of India ruled on Wednesday to set up a special independent committee that would investigate whether the Israeli-made Pegasus spyware was used against Indian citizens, including by the Indian authorities.
"We constitute a Technical Committee comprising of three members, including those who are experts in cyber security, digital forensics, networks and hardware, whose functioning will be overseen by Justice R.V. Raveendran, former Judge, Supreme Court of India", the court said.
The judge will be free to receive the assistance of any serving or retired officers and legal or technical experts, according to the statement.
The committee will determine whether the software was used to access Indian citizens' data stored on phones and other devices, what steps the authorities took after the first reports of Indians' WhatsApp accounts being hacked emerged in 2019, and whether the Indian government was itself using Pegasus to hack citizens' devices.
"The Committee is requested to prepare the report after a thorough inquiry and place it before this Court, expeditiously", the document reads.
Since the Pegasus surveillance scheme was uncovered by an international consortium of media and rights groups in summer, the Indian Supreme Court has received over 10 requests for an independent probe from citizens who believe they may have been targeted.
The Pegasus report was published in July, revealing a list of over 50,000 phone numbers whose owners were monitored by state-linked clients of Israeli company NSO Group, the creator of Pegasus. It included over 1,000 Indian phone numbers belonging to journalists, businessmen, and politicians, including ex-Indian National Congress president Rahul Gandhi.
Following the bombshell publication, the Indian National Congress requested an investigation into the alleged role of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the scandal, accusing him of "treason."