Pratap Bhanu Mehta: What the Pegasus scandal means for Indian democracy / Shoaib Daniyal: Spyware attack threatens pillars of India’s electoral democracy

NB: It should be clear by now that the world is overrun by tyrants who worship nothing but power for its own sake. Our own artists of deception have made this obvious over the past seven years. All that we know, believe and love, all knowledge, all ideals of justice, all that constitutes human life, must now pass over to the control of the self-appointed Chief Patrons of Nationalism. It's the Age of Big Brother. It symbolises the ongoing criminalisation of the Indian state. We may choose to resist or to surrender. DS

The Pegasus scandal is a matter of grave concern for Indian democracy. The widespread and unaccountable use of surveillance is morally disfiguring. Privacy is not about the wish to hide, as is often asserted. It is about having a space of one’s own where our thoughts and being are not the instrument of someone else’s purposes. It is an essential component of dignity and agency. So surveillance needs to be treated as a moral affront. Pegasus is a chilling software. It is not just eavesdropping on conversations; it can be used to access the entire digital imprint of your life. It renders helpless not just the owner of the phone hacked but everyone who is in contact with them.

In this particular scandal, the institutional stakes for Indian democracy are very high. For starters, the allegation that the phones of the woman who had complained of sexual harassment against a former Chief Justice, and her family, might have been subject to this form of surveillance is chilling. The Supreme Court handled the matter in an extraordinarily sordid way, violating procedural propriety and natural justice. If the shadow of Pegasus also hangs on the case, the court will be seen not just as an error-prone institution, but one whose proceedings are possibly impacted by shadowy surveillance. This is a serious charge and should not be made lightly. But for the same reason, this suspicion needs to be removed as emphatically as possible….

Shoaib Daniyal - SC, EC, Opposition: Spyware threatens pillars of India’s electoral democracy

A Supreme Court staffer and her family were selected as potential targets days after she accused the Ranjan Gogoi, the Supreme Court Chief Justice at the time, of sexual harassment. Also on the list was Ashok Lavasa, an election commissioner who had ruled that Prime Minister Modi had violated the Election Commission’s model code of conduct during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Lavasa’s name was added to the list of potential targets just weeks after his action against Modi…

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