Pegasus issue: ‘Is there any prime facie evidence that phones were hacked,’ asks Ravi Shankar Prasad

The government is willing to discuss all issues on the floor of the House, says the former Union Minister.

As the monsoon session of Parliament continued to see disruption amid Opposition protests on the Pegasus snooping scandal and the contentious farm laws, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday slammed the Congress and claimed that there was no “prima facie” evidence to back up the allegations that certain phones had been hacked by the government.

Former Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, at a presser at the BJP’s national headquarters in New Delhi, said that the government was willing to discuss all issues on the floor of the House, but that the Opposition had even forgone the opportunity to get clarifications from the Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw after his statement on the Pegasus issue in the Rajya Sabha. “Opposition MPs instead tore the statement,” he added.

“Is there any prime facie evidence that [phone] numbers were indeed put under surveillance,” Mr. Prasad asked, noting that Justice Arun Mishra, who retired from the Supreme Court in September 2020 and is now chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, has said a mobile number of his allegedly put under surveillance was surrendered by him way back in 2014.

The latest Pegasus story had named Justice Mishra as among those who might have been targeted by the snooping spyware.

When asked for his comment on the fact that the BJP had also stalled Parliament when the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance was in power, Mr. Prasad sought to draw a distinction saying that the then government denied alleged scams involving 2G spectrum allocation and auction of coal blocks.

The Supreme Court had quashed the 2G allocations. The ongoing disruption of Parliament had cost over ₹130 crore, Mr. Prasad noted.

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