SC permits government to suspend cellphone services under certain circumstances

The Supreme Court of Pakistan (SC) on Tuesday, allowed the government to suspend cellphone services under certain circumstances.

 During a hearing regarding Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) against network companies, the apex court granted permission to government to suspend services in certain situations under section 54(3) of the PTA Act 1996, if needed be.

“The federal government or the authority are, therefore, not vested with the power and jurisdiction to suspend or cause the suspension of mobile cellular services or operations on the ground of national security except as provided under section 54(3),” said the court order.

The court also directed PTA and Information Technology (IT) Ministry to formulate necessary SOPs for the provision of suspension of network services if required.

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Prior to this, the top court in 2018, had announced its verdict against the Islamabad High Court (IHC) which had ruled against the suspension of cellphone network services by the government.

It is to be noted that both federal and provincial governments often temporarily suspend network services on various occasions such as Muharram citing security concerns.