New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: Amid the controversy and massive uproar by the opposition leaders over the media report stating govt used Pegasus, Israeli spyware, to spy on opposition leaders, journalists and an SC judge, Electronics and Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Monday slammed the opposition leaders and said that it can't be a coincidence that the reports were published just a day before the commencement of Parliament's Monsoon Session.

Addressing the Lok Sabha on the first day of the Parliament's Monsoon Session, which was marked by massive uproar and adjournments, IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said, "A highly sensational story was published by a web portal last night. Many over-the-top allegations (were) made around this story. The press reports appeared a day before (the) monsoon session of Parliament. This can't be a coincidence".

"In the past, similar claims were made regarding the use of Pegasus on WhatsApp. Those reports had no factual basis and were denied by all parties. Press reports of 18 July also appear to be an attempt to malign Indian democracy and its well-established institutions," the IT Minister added.

The IT Minsiter further said that any surveillance is not possible without checks and balances in the Indian laws, adding that the Indian Constitution provides a well-established process to lawfully intercept the electronic communication for nation's security.

"Any form of illegal surveillance isn't possible with checks & balances in our laws &robust institutions. In India, there's a well-established procedure through which lawful interception of electronic communication is carried out for purpose of national security", he said.

The minister made this statement in response to media reports that spyware Pegasus was being used to conduct surveillance on several Indians, including political leaders, government officials and journalists.

More than 300 verified mobile phone numbers, including of two serving ministers, over 40 journalists, three opposition leaders and one sitting judge besides scores of business persons and activists in India could have been targeted for hacking through an Israeli spyware sold only to government agencies, an international media consortium reported on Sunday.

The government, however, had dismissed allegations of any kind of surveillance on its part on specific people, saying it "has no concrete basis or truth associated with it whatsoever".

Posted By: Talibuddin Khan