Despite the BJP members disrupting the committee’s meeting on July 28, the Chairman of the parliamentary panel on information technology Shashi Tharoor is hopeful that the Pegasus issue would be taken up by the panel.
The Congress leader had also written to the Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla to take action over ministry officials not attending the panel meet. He asserted that the actions of the three officials making last minute excuses to skip the meeting were a grievous assault on such panels prerogatives to summon witnesses.
Tharoor told PTI in an interview that the government’s refusal to be answerable in any way, shape or form on an issue of national and international importance, has made a mockery of democracy and of the ordinary Indians. He said avoiding discussion and accountability is the real insult to Parliament.
The Thiruvananthapuram MP said that for two years now, the IT committee has been conducting discussions on Citizens data privacy and security, and cyber security topics that also featured in its agenda under the previous chairmanship of BJP leader Anurag Thakur.
“The Pegasus issue, therefore, clearly falls under the purview of the IT committee and so it is only expected that its members will ask questions about it when these topics arise. It is no secret that the Committee’s meeting on its established agenda was disrupted by BJP members who did not want Pegasus to be discussed. It was unprecedented for 10 members to attend and to refuse to sign the register in order to deny the Committee a quorum,” Tharoor said.
On July 28, the panel was to hold a meeting which would have seen several issues including the Pegasus snooping allegations being discussed. However, it could not take place as BJP members of the panel did not sign the attendance register, despite being present in the meeting. This led to a lack of quorum.
“For good measure the three officials who were to testify that day appear to have been instructed not to attend, making last-minute excuses, which is a grievous assault on the prerogatives of parliamentary committees to summon witnesses,” Tharoor said and asserted that accountability is increasingly being tossed aside in the current regime’s headlong rush to autocracy. “Despite this disappointing approach, I am hopeful that we will be able to take up the question going forward.”
The MP added that he had proposed a Supreme Court-monitored inquiry, from the start, headed by a serving or recently-retired judge to conduct a fair, impartial and thorough investigation of the Pegasus issue.