High Court declares suspension of mobile phone services

suspension services

Suspension services:

Suspension Services (Mobile Phone Services) High Court has once again allowed the central govt to suspend mobile phone services on serious and high-security days including Pakistan day and Pakistan day parade. This means that cellular services will be interrupted on 23rd March in different part of the country, especially Islamabad which hosts a parade too.

This decision is taken a few weeks after the Islamabad High Court’s declaration that Government doesn’t have the authority to suspend cellular services in the name of security from time to time.

This decision of the High Court previously noted that the Federal Government and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority are not vested with power and authority to suspend or cause the suspension services of mobile phone or operations on the ground of national security except as provided under section 54(3) of the Pakistan Telecommunication (Re-organization) Act, 1996.

High court has now revisited its statement and takes the position that this section “can be invoked if there is a declaration of emergency by the President of Pakistan”.

Suspension Services (Mobile Phone Services) is a cause of distress for the customers, especially in a time of a civil unrest. It is a time when they need the services the most to reach out to their loved ones.

Suspension of mobile phone services:

The suspension of mobile phone services by the Authority is ultra vires of section 54; the fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 10-A, 9, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 and 19-A are violated when mobile phone users are deprived from availing the services; access to telecommunication services has become a fundamental right.

It has been held that section 54 can only be employed under the following circumstances: “(i) war or (ii) hostilities against Pakistan by any foreign power or (iii) internal aggression or (iv) defense or security of Pakistan.” Thus “apprehensions relating to public safety, law and order or the happening of an untoward incident can by no stretch of the imagination attract section 54(2).”

The judgment of the Islamabad High Court, which can be found here, is the result of the petitions filed by Advocate Hadiya Aziz, Umer Ijaz Gilani, Mian Shafqat Jan, and Ibrar Bashir before Justice Athar Minallah.

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