Pegasus snooping row: Parliamentary panel meeting postponed due to lack of quorum

New Delhi:  A parliamentary panel meeting which was called on to question government officials on Wednesday (July 28) over Pegasus spyware row was postponed due to lack of quorum, PTI reported. The members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information and Technology, chaired by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, met in Parliament to discuss ‘Citizens’ safety and data protection’.

However, BJP members, who dominate the panel, refused to sign the attendance register in protest resulting in a lack of quorum required for conducting the meeting.

BJP opposed the panel meeting alleging that when Congress is not allowing discussion on the Pegasus issue in Parliament then it cannot be brought up in the committee meeting, the news agency reported. 

Earlier, Tharoor had said that panel members will question officials from the Information and Technology Ministry and the Home Ministry on the ongoing Pegasus snooping issue. He had asserted that it is the “most important issue” for many members.

Slamming BJP over the incident,  Congress leader Karti Chidambaram tweeted, “BJP members come to the IT Committee and refuse to sign the attendance register to deny a quorum. Further, all the witnesses called from MiEIT and MHA wrote in excuses and didn’t appear as called to testify. It’s very clear that Pegasus is a no go area for this government.”

There have been continuous disruptions in both Houses since the Monsoon session of Parliament began on July 19 as opposition parties have been demanding a Supreme Court-monitored judicial probe in this matter.

An international media consortium under ‘Pegasus project’ has revealed that over 300 verified Indian mobile phone numbers were on a list of potential targets for surveillance using Israeli firm NSO’s Pegasus spyware. The list includes names of leaders including Rahul Gandhi, two union ministers — Prahlad Singh Patel and Railways and IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, businessman Anil Ambani, a former CBI chief, and at least 40 journalists. However, it is not established that all the phones were hacked.

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