SHC summons replies on cell service halt

STAFF REPORT IBD: The Information Technology Ministry and the PTA have been asked to explain the suspension of mobile phone networks in the name of national security.

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The notices to file the comments have been issued by the Sindh High Court on a petition submitted by a cellular service provider. The petitioner took the government to court citing massive financial losses. The petitioner is also seeking compensation for the losses.

Justice Faisal Arab, heading a High Court division bench, took up the petition. The cellular companys representative, Brig. Muhammad Arif, submitted that the firm on a letter about suspending the cell phone service had told the authority that the suspension decision was illegal. But the ministry has not replied yet.

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As per the SOP, the directive to suspend services was issued under Section 54(2) of the Pakistan Telecommunication (Reorganisation) Act, 1996.

The counsel said, “Cellular services can only be suspended by exercising powers described in section 54(3) of this act, subject to imposition of emergency in the country by the president.”

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He appealed to the court to restrain the telecom ministry and PTA from suspending cellular services in the future except in accordance with the law.

The judges issued notices to the information technology and telecommunication ministry and the PTA chairman.

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