Government sources said that over Rs. 133 crore taxpayer money is lost because of parliament disruptions in the monsoon sessions. The opposition parties have been demanding answers from the ruling party over the Pegasus snooping scandal.
The monsoon session of parliament started on July 19. The Modi government has shown no sign of positive response to opposition's demands for a discussion and an independent inquiry led by a Supreme Court judge into the reports of Pegasus Project, reported NDTV.
A statement released to the media said that the LokSabha only functioned for seven hours out of a possible 54. And the RajyaSabha functioned for 11 hours instead of 53 hours. The government sources noted that the loss of 89 working hours is equal to over Rs. 133 crore.
PM Modi had accused the Congress of not allowing the monsoon session of the parliament to function and deliberately spurning attempts at resolving an impasse that has seen little, if any, work for discussions on the Pegasus row. He asked BJP MPs to "expose the Congress before the public and the media".
The opposition parties said that blocking the ruling party from running the government is a tactic BJP has widely used when it was not in power. They called it a democratic process to yield the government into hearing demands over serious national security and privacy row.
The Pegasus project is an investigative report by 17 international media outlets, including Indian media firm The Wire, which revealed that Israeli spyware called Pegasus has been used to spy on 50,000 phones across the world. Several politicians, businessmen, journalists, and human rights activists were on the list of victims.
After 300 Indian numbers were found on the list, the opposition parties demanded an inquiry led by a serving or retired Supreme Court judge into the matter. The Centre has denied the request twice. Ministers in the ruling cabinet, opposition leaders like Rahul Gandhi, judges, activists, and journalists were found on the list.
IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnav read out a statement in the parliament session which repeated the BJP government's attitude of calling the snooping scandal a "non-issue". The Centre said that the statement is sufficient, reported NDTV.
The NSO Group, the proprietor of Pegasus spyware, said that the product is sold to governments to tackle criminal and terrorist activity. The company said that it does not corroborate the list published by the media. The Indian government said that there is "no substance" in the report.