Pegasus probe: Notices issues to Rahul Gandhi, Abhishek Banerjee, Prashant Kishor and H.K. Dwivedi to appear before Bengal panel

News Desk: Rahul Gandhi, Abhishek Banerjee, Prashant Kishor, and West Bengal Chief Secretary H.K. Dwivedi are among the 31 people who have been issued a notice to appear before the West Bengal panel conducting an inquiry into the Pegasus spying allegations. 

Sources said three people have deposed virtually before the commission thus far, and one has flown in from New Delhi to appear in person. More notices are likely to be sent soon, as the addresses of a few alleged victims of spying are still being ascertained. The recording of statements will continue until 21 December. 

The commission has also allowed people who testify to submit their reportedly ‘infected’ devices as evidence, and cyber forensics experts will appear before the panel Friday, sources said.

On 26 July, West Bengal became the first state to order an inquiry into the reported Pegasus spying scandal. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who has consistently attacked the Narendra Modi-led central government over the issue, announced the formation of a commission comprising retired Supreme Court Justice Madan B. Lokur and retired Calcutta High Court chief justice Jyotirmay Bhattacharya. 

The commission was tasked with inquiring into the allegations that the Israeli spyware had been used to surveil prominent people in India. On 3 August, a public notice appeared in leading newspapers across West Bengal requesting citizens to furnish any information regarding Pegasus within 30 days.

Sources said that as of 30 November 2021, the commission had sent out a total of 42 notices to alleged victims of the spyware. This includes notices to 31 separate individuals, as well as 11 reminders to some of them to depose before the commission.