Islamabad High Court (IHC) has declared the suspension of mobile phone service on the pretext of security illegal in the country.
On Monday, IHC announced the verdict on the petitions filed by the residents of Islamabad and the mobile phone companies which challenged the decision of the federal government to shut down mobile phone services during key events in different parts of Pakistan.
The petition stated that the suspension of mobile phone service around any major event was a direct violation of the fundamental rights of citizens and was also against the Telecommunication (Reorganisation) Act 1996.
Previously, Justice Athar Minallah reserved the decision on 21st December after hearing the arguments from all sides. The case was filed back in March 2016 where Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) argued that the federal government always ordered them for suspension of mobile phone service.
The government took the stance that it relies on Article 54 (2) of the Telecommunication (Reorganisation) Act 1996, which states, “During a war or hostilities against Pakistan by any foreign power or internal aggression or for the defence or security of Pakistan, the Federal Government shall have preference and priority in telecommunication systems over any license.”
The government shuts down mobile networks around various religious events including Ashura, Eid etc. causing grievances to the citizens who cannot remain connected with their family or friends.
Though we cannot argue with the security concerns, shutting down mobile phone service is not a long-term solution to deal with them
Suspension of mobile phone service violates a range of human rights including accessing health care, police’s help. disrupting work and livelihood of people etc. But now the government can n longer use this reason as the IHC’s verdict will not just be applicable in Islamabad rather it will apply across Pakistan.