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Pegasus issue: CPI MP submits notice to move privilege motion against Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw

A recent NYT report claimed that India bought the Pegasus spyware as part of a $2 billion defence deal with Israel in 2017

January 31, 2022 12:44 pm | Updated 12:44 pm IST - New Delhi

CPI’s Binoy Viswam. File

CPI’s Binoy Viswam. File

CPI MP Binoy Viswam on January 31 submitted a notice to move a privilege motion against Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw for his statement in Parliament last year on the Pegasus spyware issue.

Mr. Viswam said he submitted the notice in light of a recent New York Times report.

The report claimed that India bought the Pegasus spyware as part of a $2 billion defence deal with Israel in 2017.

It has triggered a major controversy with the Opposition alleging that the government indulged in illegal snooping that amounted to “treason”.

The Budget Session of Parliament, which began on January 31, is expected to see the Opposition cornering the Government on issues related to Pegasus snooping allegations, farmers and the border row with China. In July last year, during the Monsoon Session, Mr. Vaishnaw, who is the Minister for Electronics and Information Technology, had in Parliament said media reports on alleged snooping published a day before the start of the monsoon session “cannot be a coincidence” and stressed there is “no substance” behind the sensationalism.

“The press reports of 18th July 2021 also appear to be an attempt to malign the Indian democracy and its well-established institutions,” he had said.

Mr. Viswam, a Rajya Sabha member, said despite the Government’s repeated attempts at hiding the truth, “numerous pieces of evidence have been made public that point towards the government’s purchase of Pegasus spyware”.

“The New York Times report is the latest on the list,” he said.

The matter concerns grave allegations of snooping that violate Constitutional rights and safeguards, but “the Minister’s deliberate attempt to mislead the members of Parliament constitutes a breach of privilege”, the CPI MP said.

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