ISLAMABAD: Setting aside the Islamabad High Court (IHC) verdict declaring the suspension of mobile phone services illegal, the Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday allowed the government to do so on the pretext of “national security”.
It is common practice for mobile cellular to be suspended in cities on religious events. The IHC, in a February 2018 judgement, had declared the practice “illegal” and tantamount to “exceeding constitutional authority”.
However, the apex court, in its short order, declared the IHC verdict null and void and directed the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and the Ministry of Information and Technology to devise standard operating procedures (SOPs) in this regard.
The IHC verdict was challenged by PTA in the apex court where a division bench had on April 22 deemed it justified to suspend the mobile service on sensitive events.
“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 same would be in the public interest, reasonable, fair, consistent with the object of the law and therefore valid,” a nine-page written judgment authored by Justice Umar Ata Bandial had said.
“Accordingly, the exercise of power by PTA under the policy directive dated 26.12.2009 ought to be evaluated in the light of the threat that is anticipated.”