- Rahul Gandhi welcomed the top court's order to form a committee
- He said the opposition's stand on the issue is "vindicated"
- Pegasus can only be bought by a government, said Rahul Gandhi
Congress's Rahul Gandhi welcomed the Supreme Court's order to form a committee to look into the Pegasus spyware row, saying the opposition's stand on the issue is "vindicated" since the judges have flagged the same concerns. "We protested, but no reply. We stopped Parliament, but we still did not get a reply. Now our stand is vindicated. So, our questions remain the same," Mr Gandhi said.
The court has ordered the formation of a three-member expert committee to inquire into the alleged use of Pegasus spyware to snoop on phones of politicians, activists and journalists, saying the state will "not get a free pass" every time national security is raised and the court will not remain a "mute spectator".
Overruling virtually every argument made by the Centre, the top court said privacy is not the singular concern of journalists or social activists but of every citizen. Surveillance, said the three-judge bench led by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, "can have chilling effect on the freedom of speech".
Mr Gandhi said the opposition, has been asking three basic questions. "Who authorised Pegasus (and) who has bought Pegasus? Who are the victims of Pegasus snooping? Did any other nation have data on our people? What all information do they have?"
Pegasus, he said, can only be bought by a government, and "either the Prime Minister or Home Minister had given the go-ahead".
"If the PM of the nation colluded with another nation and attacked its own citizens -- which included the Chief Justice, former PMs and other Chief Ministers, leaders of opposition parties, then this is an attack on the nation," he added.
"Did the other nation have all this data? That is a very important question. Even if this data was on the Prime Ministers desk, then that too is totally criminal, and we will contest it," he said, adding "The Prime Minster is not above the nation".
The opposition, he said, will push for a debate again in parliament. "Surely the BJP will not want that discussion, but we will push for it. The matter is in court now and the court will take it forward, but we will push for a debate in Parliament.