On Tuesday, the Supreme Court allowed the federal government to suspend mobile phone services on the pretext of “national security”. Whilst setting aside the Islamabad High Court (IHC) verdict declaring the suspension of mobile phone services illegal.
The Pakistani government suspends mobile phone services on sensitive religious events to ensure public safety. The IHC in a February 2018 judgment had declared this practice “illegal” and tantamount to “exceeding constitutional authority”.
Furthermore, today the court conduct hearing of the Ministry of Information and the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority’s petitions against mobile phone companies
According to the reports, the apex court in its order declared the IHC verdict null and void. Besides, the court decided that the government can suspend cellular services under special circumstances. It has also ordered PTA and the IT ministry to come up with relevant SOPs and procedures to do so.
Islamabad High Court’s Verdict of 2018!
Chief Justice Athar Minallah of IHC in his February 26, 2018 verdict had declared the suspension of mobile phone services on the pretext of “security concerns” illegal.
Furthermore, the PTA challenged the IHC verdict in the Supreme court. Whilst Justice Bandial on April 22 led a division bench of the apex court set aside the IHC judgment. Besides, it justified the Federal government’s policy to suspend the mobile service on sensitive events.
Moreover, justice Umar Ata Bandial said in a 9 page written judgment:
“These protective measures are taken on the request of law enforcement authorities in view of past experience of terrorist activities at similar events. If such events caused the issuance of the impugned directions then the suspension is therefore valid.”
Meanwhile, the impugned judgment of the IHC further held that the said policy directive failed to meet the criteria and conditions laid down in Section 54(2) and (3) of the Act. The apex court in its written judgment held that the power of PTA under the policy directive dated 26.12.2009 does not conflict with Section 54(3) of the Act which operates in a different field.
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