The Defence Ministry put on record on Monday that it had nothing to do with snooping or Israel based NSO Group Technologies.
In a written reply to a question of parliamentarian V Sivadasan in the Rajya Sabha on Monday, Minister of State (Defence) Ajay Bhatt said, "Ministry of Defence has not had any transaction with NSO Group Technologies." The minister was replying to a query whether the government had carried out any transaction with the NSO Group Technologies.
Sivadasan is a Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader and member of the Upper House from Kerala.
Both the Upper House and the Lower House is Parliament have been witnessing disruptions over the snooping issue where NSO Group Technologies spyware called Pegasus enables the remote surveillance of smartphones of politicians, activists, journalists and others.
Last week eighteen leaders of like-minded opposition parties issued a joint statement and demanded a discussion on the Pegasus snooping issue. The statement read: "The opposition parties stand firm and united on their demand for a discussion on the Pegasus issue in both the Houses, replied to by the Home Minister, as this has national security dimensions."
The opposition has also unequivocally conveyed that 'the discussion on the farmers' issues and agitations arising from the three anti-farmers and black agri-laws should follow the discussion on Pegasus'.
"It is unfortunate that the government has unleashed a misleading campaign to malign the combined opposition and blame it for the continued disruption in Parliament. The responsibility for the deadlock lies squarely at the doorstep of the government, which remains arrogant and obdurate and refuses to accept the opposition's demand for an informed debate in both the Houses." it said.
The opposition also said, "It urges the government to respect parliamentary democracy and accept the discussions."
Last week even the Supreme Court said allegations of Pegasus-related snooping are serious, if the reports in the newspapers are correct. The apex court had sought the Centre's stand on petitions filed by the Editors Guild of India and senior journalist N. Ram, seeking a probe into the Israeli spyware matter. Apart from that several petitions have been filed in the top court seeking a court-monitored probe into the Pegasus snooping allegations.