22 Jul 2021: Shashi Tharoor rules out JPC probe on Pegasus scandal
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor has ruled out the possibility of a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the alleged Pegasus scandal. Tharoor said that the Parliamentary standing committee on Information and Technology headed by him "will do its duty" and that the subject is "already on the mandate of my committee." Notably, the panel has decided to take up the issue on July 28.
Details: IT committee and JPC have identical rules: Tharoor
Tharoor's comments came at a time when Opposition parties are demanding a JPC probe on the issue. However, Tharoor said the committee and the JPC have identical rules and the IT committee is "already doing the job." "Strictly speaking, you don't need to create a new committee to do something that is already within the mandate of one committee," Tharoor told The Indian Express.
Concerns: 'Issue of utmost gravity and seriousness for Indian democracy'
Referring to the fact that people who have been allegedly surveilled are of "similar interest" to the ruling BJP, Shashi Tharoor said the issue is of "utmost gravity and seriousness for Indian democracy." "Because the implied allegation is that a government agency has been using software intended for tracking criminals and terrorists and used it for the partisan political benefit of the ruling party."
Government: 'Explanation needed from government if surveillance was authorized'
Since the government claims there was no unauthorized surveillance, Tharoor questioned if any authorized surveillance was implied. He said, "...then they will have to explain on what basis it was authorized." He said, under the IT Act, 2000, hacking is a punishable offense, and an authorized interception of communication can only be done "on grounds of national security or the prevention of a crime."
NSO: 'If foreign government is involved, then it is serious'
Elaborating on the seriousness of the issue further, Tharoor said, "If our government didn't do it, some other government had to have done it because NSO claims that the software is only sold to (vetted) governments." "Either somebody in the Indian government has broken Indian laws...or a foreign government is intruding upon Indian politics and Indian public life by snooping on our people."
Fact: What did Tharoor said about the possibility of judicial probe?
About the possibility of a judicial probe, Tharoor said, "That's the question...I think that some people may be going to the Supreme Court directly." A judicial probe can also be appointed under the Commissions of Inquiry Act if the SC doesn't take cognizance, he noted.
Developments: Opposition parties demanded JPC probe yesterday
As the Pegasus scandal rocks parliament's monsoon session, Opposition parties such as Congress and Communist Party of India (CPI) have demanded a JPC probe into the alleged snooping scandal. On Tuesday, Shiv Sena also demanded a JPC or a Supreme Court-monitored probe into the Pegasus illegal surveillance issue. The case has also led to uproar during the Monsoon Session of the Parliament.
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Also see: Pegasus: Amnesty says never claimed leaked numbers were actually hacked
Pegasus row: Shiv Sena demands Parliamentary probe; blames Centre
Pegasus row: Parliamentary panel to question Centre on July 28
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