'First State to Do So': Bengal Announces Panel to Probe Pegasus Reports Case
The inquiry commission will be headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice Madan Lokur.
The West Bengal government on Monday, 26 July, announced a two-member inquiry commission, headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice Madan Lokur, to probe the Pegasus reports. According to LiveLaw, former acting Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court Justice Jyotirmay Bhattacharya is slated to be the other member of the panel.
Justice Lokur retired from the Supreme Court in 2018, and Justice Bhattacharya retired from the high court the same year.
Pointing out that West Bengal is the first state to initiate a commission of inquiry, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was quoted by ANI as saying:
"Through Pegasus, everyone including judiciary and civic society has been under surveillance. We expected that during Parliament, Centre will investigate under SC supervision, but they didn't."
The CM also said that the commission will look into illegal hacking, monitoring, surveillance, and recording mobile phones etc.
WHAT DO THE PEGASUS REPORTS SAY?
Reports published by news organisations across the world on 18 July revealed that Israel-made spyware Pegasus was believed to have been used to snoop on at least 300 Indian phone numbers, including those of several journalists, politicians, government officials, and rights activists.
It has also been reported that the Pegasus list includes 14 world leaders, out of which at least seven are still in power.
On 21 July, news agency Reuters, citing an Israeli source, had reported that Israel has formulated a senior inter-ministerial team to look into allegations that the Israeli spyware – NSO Group’s Pegasus software – has been abused globally.
The phone numbers listed include those of ex-CBI officials, BJP ministers, Opposition leaders, key defence figures, prominent journalists etc.
(With inputs from The Wire, LiveLaw, and ANI.)
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