The Supreme Court-appointed panel constituted last October is struggling to complete its investigation with very few coming forward to depose before it or submit their devices for technical scrutiny. The technical committee appointed by the Supreme Court looking into the Pegasus issue had to decide to extend the timeline for affected persons to turn up before the panel. The condition is that neither anyone is coming for investigation before the committee constituted by the Supreme Court nor is interested in giving his mobile phone. So far only two people have submitted their mobile phones for examination by experts.

Earlier, the Supreme Court of India had constituted a panel of inquiry headed by a retired judge in view of the seriousness of the matter. The SC’s order to set up the panel came on a plea which said that some forensic investigation conducted on behalf of Amnesty International, which had closed its operations in India because of non-adherence to FCRA guidelines, at the Citizen Lab of Toronto University’s Munk School had found that Pegasus was used to hack into at least 14 phones belonging to activists, journalists, opposition leaders and others. It is alleged that the Pegasus spyware was used against more than 300 opposition leaders, journalists and activists, which the government had vehemently denied.

The panel, which also includes tech experts, has so far set out two appeals through the media for help with the investigation. With the first notice, issued on January 2, failing to get response, the panel renewed its appeal on Thursday, asking complainants to submit their phones. So far only two persons — Delhi-based journalist J Gopikrishnan and Jharkhand-based activist Rupesh Kumar — have submitted their phones for investigation by the panel, but only one of them has recorded his statement. Eight others who recorded evidence through videoconference didn’t submit their phones while nearly two dozen have just made inquiries.

The technical committee has now given time till February 8, for more people to contact the panel if they suspected that their devices were infected by the spyware.

“Therefore, the technical committee once again requests those who have reasonable causes to believe their mobile instrument is infected with Pegasus spyware to come forward and contact the technical committee with reasons as to why they believe that their mobile instrument may have been infected with Pegasus malware on or before February 8, 2022, by an email…,”

it stated, as quoted by PTI.

The Pegasus issue, which has been vigorous in the political uproar, is proving to be weak in the investigation. The monsoon session of Parliament was lost to Pegasus. In the budget session, the opposition MPs are trying to give it an edge again.

It is worth noting that after the monsoon session was washed away due to the opposition uproar, the Supreme Court had constituted a panel of inquiry headed by a retired judge in view of the seriousness of the matter. After the technical committee was constituted in October, all those who had become victims of espionage were asked to appear before the panel and submit their phones for investigation. But in three months only 10 people have recorded their statements and only two of them have submitted their mobile phones for technical examination.

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