The Pegasus snooping allegations are based on conjectures and "unsubstantiated media reports" and will be examined by a group of experts to dispel any wrong narrative, the government told the Supreme Court today.
In a two-page affidavit filed by the Additional Secretary, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, the Centre denied allegations linked to recent reports that Israeli Pegasus spyware - sold only to governments - was used to target opposition leaders, journalists and others.
The document said the government "unequivocally denies" allegations and they are "based on conjectures and surmises or on other unsubstantiated media reports or incomplete or uncorroborated material".
The petitioners "have not made out any case", the government told the court. But "to dispel any wrong narrative spread by certain vested interests and with an object of examining the issues raised", the government will constitute a committee of experts in the field to go into all aspects of the issue, the affidavit said, citing the statement in parliament by Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw.
The Pegasus allegations dominated an acrimonious standoff between the government and the opposition that led to multiple disruptions and chaos in the monsoon session of parliament.
A media consortium, including The Wire, has disclosed that 300 phones from India were revealed to be on the list of potential targets on the leaked database of NSO, which supplies the Pegasus spyware. It is not established, however, that all the phones were hacked.
According to The Wire, phones of opposition leaders like Rahul Gandhi, Supreme Court judges, ministers, and journalists were among potential targets.