The Indian Supreme Court decided to appoint, Wednesday, October 27, an independent committee of experts to investigate the use of the Pegasus spyware against journalists, activists, lawyers, students, political opponents, including Rahul Gandhi, the leader Congress, who was twice Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s opponent in regional elections. It will be made up of cybersecurity and IT specialists, under the supervision of a retired magistrate. The selection, according to the magistrates, was “Extremely difficult”, because many experts declined.
The large-scale espionage case was exposed in July by a consortium of 17 media outlets, including The world. A few days later, nine applicants Indians whose phones were spied on had seized the supreme jurisdiction.
In support of their decision, the magistrates stress that the accusations are sufficiently serious in relation to the freedom of expression of the media and respect for private life and raise concerns. “Orwellian concerns”, in the words of the President of the Supreme Court, NV Ramana.
Suspicion is on the Indian government as the Israeli company NSO markets Pegasus to governments, militaries, law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
Despite repeated requests from Indian justice, for three months, Narendra Modi’s government has refused to confirm or deny the use of the software. On the contrary, he is doing everything to ensure that justice cannot investigate the case by invoking national security imperatives. He even suggested that the judges set up his own committee of experts. For magistrates of the highest jurisdiction, the State cannot benefit from“A pass whenever the specter of national security is raised”.
After the revelation of the Pegasus affair, the Indian government also dodged the debate in Parliament demanded by the opposition to find out “If the state bought Pegasus and spied on the Indians”. Rahul Gandhi who described the constitution of the committee of experts as ” big step “ believes that Pegasus constitutes “An attempt to crush democracy”.
Severe call to order
The Supreme Court’s decision already sounds like a severe call to order for the government. Magistrates believe that India cannot remain silent in the face of the revelations of the Pegasus affair while other countries around the world, also struggling with this spyware, have taken them seriously.
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For Indian Supreme Court, Pegasus case raises “Orwellian concerns”