“The Pegasus usage is part of the larger authoritarian architecture that has been built up over the past seven years. The message is that any means can be adopted to establish and consolidate the authoritarian Hindutva regime.
“Like the UAPA, the hacking of computers of the accused in the Bhima-Koregaon case to plant malware as evidence, the use of the Enforcement Directorate and other central agencies to intimidate and incarcerate, the Pegasus is a cyber weapon against potential opponents and threats,” it said.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) also said the purpose and pattern in the use of the spyware is evident and that it is designed to “protect those in power and to destabilise the opposition and monitor the investigative voices in the media”.
It said the targeting of the 11 phone numbers linked to the woman who complained of sexual harassment by the then Chief Justice of India was “ominous”.
“It is meant to protect someone in a vital position and probably use the information collected as leverage to bring the judiciary to heel. There is constant talk of the undermining of constitutional bodies under the (Narendra) Modi regime.
“The targeting of Ashok Lavasa, the dissenting Election Commissioner on certain decisions of the Commission favouring Modi, shows how spyware is used to intimidate and, if required, even blackmail functionaries of the constitutional bodies,” it said.
The party further said it is essential for the preservation of the democratic system and protecting the rights of citizens that accountability be fixed for those who transgressed the laws and violated all legal boundaries.
“Since the Modi government is in denial and seeks to protect the guilty, it is absolutely imperative that a high-level probe be conducted. The Supreme Court must initiate and supervise such an enquiry,” the editorial said.