A petition was filed in India's top court on Thursday seeking a court-monitored probe by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) into allegations of snooping by government agencies using Israeli spyware known as Pegasus.
Speaking to Sputnik, petitioner and advocate M.L. Sharma claimed that the Pegasus row is a matter of grave concern and a serious attack on India's democracy, judiciary, and security.
"The widespread and unaccountable use of surveillance is morally disfiguring. The snooping on prominent people of the country by the government is kind of a cyber-weapon being unleashed on the Indian polity", he said.
In his plea, Sharma wondered "whether the Constitution allows the Prime Minister and his ministers to snoop on citizens of India for their vested political interest".
He further requested that the top court declare the purchase of Pegasus software for snooping illegal and unconstitutional, urging the Union Council of Ministers to return the amount issued from the public treasury with interest.
Since Sunday, 17 global media organisations, in cooperation with several NGOs, have been releasing reports claiming that thousands of people, including over 300 Indians, were targeted in a hacking attack by state-linked clients of the Israeli cyber intelligence firm NSO Group, the developer of the Pegasus software.
These organisations conducted investigations based on leaked data shared by Forbidden Stories, a France-based non-profit and human rights group, and Amnesty International.
Following the reports, India's main opposition parties, including Congress, have been accusing the government of spying on citizens. The opposition parties have sought the resignation of Home Minister Amit Shah and called for an investigation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for “killing the fundamental rights of people”.
However, the Indian government has categorically rejected the charges, saying attempts were being made to "malign" Indian democracy.