IHC declares suspension of mobile service illegal

ISLAMABAD, Feb 26 (APP):The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday declared that the government or any authority
not vested with the power and jurisdiction to suspend mobile cellular services on the ground
of national security except as provided under Section 54(3).
Justice Athir Minnallah announced its reserved judgment in identical petitions, challenging
the suspension of mobile phone services across the country on the pretext of security.
Multiple petitions had been submitted against the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority
(PTA) and the case was decided last year in September by Justice Ather Minallah, but the
judgement was reserved to be announced later on.
Justice Minallah read out the verdict in open court and declared that, “the actions, orders
and directives issued by the Federal Government or the Authority, as the case may be, which
are inconsistent with the provisions of Section 54(3) are declared as illegal, ultra vires and
without lawful authority and jurisdiction.”
The petitioners took the stance that suspension of mobile phone and internet services was
violation of their fundamental rights as guaranteed by the Constitution.
They pleaded the suspension was in violation of the Pakistan Telecommunication Act 1996
which did not empower the the government or authority to suspend services unless a state of
emergency has been declared by the President of Pakistan.
It may added that Section 54(3) of the Pakistan Telecommunications Act 1996 states that
“Upon proclamation of emergency by the President, the Federal Government may suspend or
modify all or any order or licences, made or issued under this Act or cause suspension of
operation, functions or services of any licensee for such time as it may deem necessary”.