Probing Pegasus: On Bengal ordering inquiry into snooping row

West Bengal government is right in ordering a judicial inquiry into the spyware scandal

It is entirely a different matter that the two-member Commission, comprising Justice Madan B. Lokur, former judge of the Supreme Court, and Justice Jyotirmay Bhattacharya, former Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court, may face severe constraints. For one thing, only some of the potential targets may testify and seek the Commission’s aid in getting their phones forensically examined for evidence of infection by Pegasus. Central agencies may not readily offer their cooperation. The Intelligence Bureau may not be permitted to join the probe, and even if it did, it may claim privilege over documents and records relating to its legitimate interception orders, citing national security and operational sensitivity. In a country where there is no parliamentary oversight over its intelligence agencies, it is unclear how far these agencies and its personnel would cooperate with a probe ordered by a State government. There have been instances — the Jain and Verma Commissions come to mind — of intelligence files being made available to judicial panels. Therefore, it will be both desirable and appropriate if the Centre itself ordered a wide-ranging judicial inquiry into the Pegasus scandal so that the nation has an opportunity to get at the truth.

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