An Islamabad High Court (IHC) division bench on Tuesday suspended the IHC single bench order dated February 26, 2018 in which the IHC single bench comprising Justice Athar Minallah had declared mobile phone service suspension by the government on security pretext as illegal.
The division bench was hearing in the intera court appeal (ICA) of the federal government that has challenged single bench judgment through which Justice Athar Minallah had declared off and on mobile phone suspension on security pretext as illegal.
Additional Secretary Ministry of Interior, Farah Hamid, submitted before the court that in the past whenever they received directives regarding closure of cellular services, the telecom operators acted on them. Now because of the single bench order, now it is not possible for the government to ask them suspend their service under the precarious security situation.
The IHC division bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani after hearing the arguments, suspended the single bench order till first week of May observing that the suspension order was interim and would be vacated in the first week of May unless the court issues directives in this regard.
Legal counsels and representatives for cellular companies and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) were present in the court. The PTA counsel, Barrister Munawar Iqbal said suspension of cellular phone service was required due to security threats particularly on the eve of March 23, 2018 National Day parade and festivities in Islamabad. He prayed to the court to set aside the single bench orders.
It may be mentioned here that on February 26, 2018 an IHC single bench had allowed a petition against the off and on closure of mobile phone networks by the government on security pretext.
In a 15 pages detailed judgment, Justice Athar Minallah had observed that the actions, orders and directives issued by the Federal Government or Authority (PTA), as the case may be, which were inconsistent with the provisions of section 54(3) and were declared as illegal, ultra vires and without lawful authority and jurisdiction”. The Federal Government or PTA are not vested with powers and jurisdiction to suspend or cause the suspension of mobile cellular services or operations on the ground of national security except as provided in section 54(3) that is regarding proclamation of emergency by the President of Pakistan, IHC order further says. The decision was announced in the petitions of CM Pak Limited and other private citizens.