According to The Wire, the 35-year-old woman was flagged as a “person of interest” days after she made allegations of sexual harassment against former CJI Ranjan Gogoi.

ranjan gogoi
news Privacy Monday, July 19, 2021 - 20:10

The woman staffer in the Supreme Court, who had accused former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi of sexual harassment, is one of the people believed to have been targeted by Israeli spyware Pegasus. The Wire reports that 11 phone numbers, used by the woman and her family members, were selected as potential targets for surveillance. She has previously worked as a junior court assistant at the Supreme Court. 

In April 2019, the woman had accused former CJI Gogoi — who is now a Rajya Sabha MP nominated to the Parliament by the BJP — of sexually harassing her. According to The Wire, she was flagged as a “person of interest” days later. Numbers that belonged to her husband and two of his brothers were also marked, the report added. The woman was removed from the job for her allegations. 

The alleged incident took place in October 2018 at the CJI’s residence office. The woman had written to 22 judges of the Supreme Court, detailing the sexual harassment and the repercussions that ensued. According to Scroll, which accessed the affidavit, the woman said that the former CJI allegedly hugged her around her waist, touched her all over her body and pressed his body against her. The woman also alleged that he asked her to hold him and did not let go of her as she stood frozen. 

Terming these allegations as ‘unbelievable,’ the CJI said that the woman had worked in the Supreme Court for less than two months and even accused her of having a 'criminal background.' The 35-year-old woman, in the sworn affidavit, said she was dismissed from service in December 2018, reportedly on the ground of taking casual leave for one day without approval, among two other reasons. Her family members, who were police officers, were suspended in December 2018 for a 2012 case that was mutually resolved. 

In May 2019, a three-judge panel, constituted to look into the sexual harassment charges against Ranjan Gogoi, dismissed the charges against him as it “it did not find any substance in the allegations.” 

These phone-hack revelations are a part of an investigation conducted by Paris-based media non-profit organisation Forbidden Stories and rights group Amnesty International into a leaked list of more than 50,000 phone numbers from across the world, many of which are believed to have been the target of surveillance through Pegasus software of Israeli surveillance company NSO Group. The Wire and 16 other international publications, including Washington Post, The Guardian and Le Monde, are media partners to the investigation. 

While over 50,000 numbers have been found on the database, 300 verified phone numbers are from India — including those of two serving ministers, over 40 journalists, three opposition leaders and one sitting judge, besides scores of business persons and activists — and could have been targeted for hacking through Pegasus. Pegasus, which had also made news in India in 2019, is only sold to government agencies by the Israeli NSO Group.

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