Pegasus Spyware Scandal: A New Writ before the Supreme Court Requests an Investigation Into the 2017 India-Israel Defense Deal

New Delhi: A new case has been filed in the Supreme Court on the alleged use of Israeli spyware, Pegasus, in the wake of a New York Times article stating India bought Pegasus as part of a USD 2 billion defence agreement with Israel in 2017.According to counsel ML Sharma’s petition, the contract was not approved by Parliament and so needs to be cancelled and the money retrieved.

Pegasus Spyware Scandal: A New Writ before the Supreme Court Requests an Investigation Into the 2017 India-Israel Defense Deal
Supreme Court of India

Sharma, one of the case’s initial petitioners, sought the Supreme Court to grant appropriate directions for filing a criminal case and investigating the disputed Pegasus malware contract and alleged misappropriation of public monies in the interest of justice, according to PTI.

The Israeli spyware Pegasus was sold to India, according to a New York Times investigation piece headlined “The Battle for the World’s Most Powerful Cyberweapon.”

“In July 2017, Narendra Modi, who ran on a Hindu nationalist platform, became the first Indian prime minister to visit Israel,” according to a New York Times piece published on Friday.

“India had maintained a policy of ‘support to the Palestinian cause’ for decades, and relations with Israel were tense,” the paper continued.

Prime Minister Modi’s “visit, on the other hand, was notably amicable, complete with a meticulously orchestrated scene of him” and then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “walking together barefoot on a nearby beach,” according to the newspaper.

“The warm sensations were justified. Their countries had agreed to sell a bundle of advanced weaponry and intelligence equipment worth around $2 billion, with Pegasus and a missile system as the centrepieces,” according to the article.

Earlier on Saturday, the Opposition lashed out at Prime Minister Modi’s government, citing a New York Times investigation alleging illegal snooping that amounted to “treason” by the ruling regime.

The Supreme Court had earlier formed a three-member team of cyber experts to investigate the alleged use of Pegasus for monitoring of select people in India on October 27, last year.

The state cannot get a “free pass” every time the spectre of national security is invoked, the supreme court noted at the time, and it cannot be the bugbear that the judiciary avoids.

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