The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has enabled the federal government on Tuesday to suspend the mobile phone service on 23rd March (Pakistan Day) parade. The court has also allowed the federal government to suspend the mobile service on other important events too.
A two-member division bench of the Islamabad High Court consisting of Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani and Justice Aamer Farooq, during the hearing session of the appeal filed by the federal government stayed the single-member bench judgement that gave the directions of permitting suspension of the cellular services on vital occasions under the slogan of national security as illegal.
Previously, Justice Athar Minallah of IHC decided upon a petition submitted by the cellular company CM Pak and others against the suspension of the mobile network services on the important days and declared that the federal government of the PTA (Pakistan Telecommunications Authority) are hence no more entrusted with the authority and power to suspend or cause the suspension of cellular services or operations on the basis of national security except as given under the Section 54 (3) of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
The federal government by under this section suspends the cellular services while protests, important funerals, sit-ins, Chehlum, Muharram, sometimes during the Lal Masjid cleric’s sermons and Rabiul Awwal.
The Islamabad High Court observed that it could be invoked in case of an emergency by the President of Pakistan.
Justice Minallah in a fifteen-page detailed judgement mentions that the actions, directives and orders issued by the PTA and the federal government, which are not consistent in accordance with the Section 54(3) are declared as unlawful, without legal power and jurisdiction and ultra vires.
The CM Pak Limited and other petitioners have proclaimed in front of the court that their basic rights get violated when the cellular services are suspended.
Petitioners mentioned that they had licenses and has got the radio frequency spectrum via open bidding. The petitioner was being forced by the PTA at various times to suspend its services on the grounds of plain worries which not only invades into the basic rights of the customers but also causes a breach to the firm’s duties towards its customers—which is of providing uninterrupted data and voice services.