The Union Ministry of Home Affairs has referred the matter relating to former Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah's complaint to investigate the alleged spying and surveillance through Pegasus spyware to the Karnataka government, saying that police and public order are state subjects.
The ministry said, "Since 'police' and 'public order' are state subjects under the seventh schedule to the Constitution of India, it is the responsibility of the concerned state government to prevent, detect, register and investigate crime and prosecute the criminals involved through the machinery of its own law enforcement agencies, and hence, you may take action on the representation, as deemed appropriate."
Siddaramaiah, the leader of opposition in the Karnataka Assembly, petitioned President Ram Nath Kovind through Governor Thaawarchand Gehlot on July 22 seeking a judicial inquiry by a sitting judge of the Supreme Court on "illegal" spying and surveillance through Pegasus after staging a demonstration in the city.
The petition was forwarded by the President's Secretariat to the Home Ministry, which recently sent a letter to the Karnataka Chief Secretary P Ravi Kumar marking a copy to Siddaramaiah.
Sources close to Siddaramaiah said that he may raise an objection over the letter as the matter pertains to 'Centre and state subject', which only Centre has to address.
The senior Congress leader in his letter to the President on July 22 said people of the country are shocked and surprised to notice on July 18, 2021 that series of news reports in publications around the world revealed that more than 1,000 Indian mobile numbers of various personalities were targeted for surveillance including those of opposition party leaders, union ministers, supreme court judges, journalists, election commission members and other dignified and important persons of the country by using the Pegasus spyware of NSO Group of Israeli company.
"Pegasus Spyware is a commercial company, which works on paid contracts. The questions arise on who paid them for the 'Indian Operation'. If it is not the Government of India, then who it is?" Siddaramaiah wrote in his letter to the President.
Quoting media reports, he said since 2019, more particularly in the month of June and July of that year, he himself, then Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, then Deputy Chief Minister Dr G Parameshwara, former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda and other political leaders' numbers were spied upon and kept under surveillance by tapping the phones of the leaders and their personal staff.
"The BJP leadership had engineered to resign 17 MLAs in the name and style of 'Operation Kamala' (Operation Lotus). Similarly the BJP leadership might have tapped the phones of leaders from Madhya Pradesh and other state governments and toppled the said state governments," Siddaramaiah alleged.
In his letter, he urged the President to order a judicial probe by a sitting Supreme Court judge on illegal spying and surveillance in the interest of national security and to uphold the dignity and fundamental rights of the citizens of India.