Nitish Kumar, BJP Ally, Joins Opposition Clamour For Probe Into Pegasus

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said, "Such things should not be done to disturb and harass people... The whole thing should be made public".

"Of course it should happen," Nitish Kumar said when asked about a probe into the Pegasus row.

Patna:

Bihar Chief Minister and BJP ally Nitish Kumar today added his voice to the opposition demand for an investigation into the Pegasus scandal involving allegations that politicians, journalists and others were targets of the Israeli spyware. "Such things should not be done to disturb and harass people... The whole thing should be made public," he said in remarks expected to add to the discomfiture of the BJP.

The row -- which erupted last month after reports by a consortium of 17 media houses across the world -- has snowballed into a huge political controversy. The government has come under pressure after the software vendor NSO said its clients are only vetted governments and their agencies.

With the opposition parties pressing their demand of a discussion in parliament, little work has been conducted in the Monsoon Session.

The government has given a statement in parliament, saying no illegal interception has been done. But there has been no discussion on the issue in either house.

"Of course it should happen," Mr Kumar said today, when asked if the matter should be investigated.  

"There has been talk of telephone tapping for so many days... The issue is being raised in parliament and there are news reports in the media... So definitely it should discussed and looked into... the whole thing should be made public," the Chief Minister told reporters.  

"There is no guarantee and no one knows how these things can be done. So the whole thing should be examined and after judging each aspect, action should be taken," he added.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court will hear a clutch of petitions seeking a special investigation into the Pegasus scandal. The petitioners include senior journalists N Ram and Sashi Kumar, CPM MP John Brittas and advocate ML Sharma.

The petitions have sought that the court order the government to disclose whether it has obtained a licence for the spyware or used it -- directly or indirectly -- to conduct surveillance of any kind.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, poll strategist Prashant Kishor, two serving Union Ministers, an ex-Election Commissioner and 40 journalists were among names in an alleged list of potential targets. More than 142 people in India were on the alleged list.

Forensic analysis of some of the cellphones by the Security Lab of Amnesty International confirmed security breach, media houses involved in the investigation have said.