Pegasus: 11 phones of woman who accused Gogoi of harassment ‘hacked’

The woman had accused former CJI Ranjan Gogoi of sexual harassment and had filed a formal complaint in 2019

The woman in her 28-page complaint alleged that the former CJI had made sexual advances at her and touched her inappropriately in his residence office where she was posted. Photo: PTI File.

At least three phone numbers used by the woman who in 2019 had accused then Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi of sexual harassment and eight others of her kin, are among the list of numbers that were under surveillance via the Pegasus spyware, a global collaborative investigation has found.

A report in The Wire, which was part of the investigation, said an unidentified Indian agency which is a client of Pegasus’ maker NSO Group had selected the woman among other potential targets and accessed a total of 11 phone numbers belonging to her and her family members to access her data.

The report said leaked database accessed by French media non-profit Forbidden Stories shows that besides the three numbers belonging to the woman, eight other numbers used by her husband and two of his brothers were also targeted for surveillance in the same week when she had made the allegations about the CJI.

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The woman, a staffer of the Supreme Court was dismissed from service in December 2018, weeks after she claimed to have declined the CJI’s advances. She later recorded her allegations in an affidavit on April 20, 2019. Around the same time, her husband and one her brother in-laws, both working with Delhi police, were suspended, but were later reinstated in June 2019.

The Wire report said the woman was marked as a person of interest by the agency using Pegasus, just days after April 20.

The woman and her family were selected as a target because as she had made her allegations against a sitting CJI public, the report said.

One of the brothers-in-law of the woman with whom Indian Express spoke to said he had no idea that he and his family were being targeted by the surveillance.

The woman in her 28-page complaint filed on April 19, 2019, had alleged that the former CJI had made sexual advances at her and touched her inappropriately in his residence office where she was posted, on October 10 and 11, 2018. She alleged that she was transferred multiple times after the incident and was suspended from service in December over an inquiry initiated against her over her questioning decisions of senior officers regarding her posting and leaves.

Gogoi, on the other hand, had rubbished all allegations against him, while calling it a conspiracy against him.

Gogoi in February this year was cleared of all charges by the Supreme Court which said “the existence of conspiracy (against the CJI) cannot be completely ruled out”. Gogoi was later nominated to the Rajya Sabha by the government after he retired.