The Sindh High Court on Thursday directed the Interior Ministry not to suspend cellular phone services on Eid-ul-Azha unless it is absolutely inevitable. The direction came on the petition of Tahir Pervez who sought a court injunction against possible suspension of the cellular phone service on the eve of Eid-ul-Azha.
The petitioner submitted that the Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik in his reported statement in the media indicated that cellular phone services could be suspended on the eve of Eid over security concerns. His counsel Nehal Hashmi submitted that the phone service could not be suspended until the proclamation of emergency is announced by the President of Pakistan. He submitted that the government had also suspended the service on the eve of Eidul-Fitr and caused hardship to millions of citizens of the country.
Pervez submitted that the cellular phone service should not be suspended until orders by the competent authorities and government could not suspend the service adding that the closure of service would also create space for spreading rumours in society.
He submitted that many people wanted to wish their loved ones living abroad or within the country on the eve of Eid-ul-Azha through cellular phone services but the reported statement of the federal minister regarding suspension of the phone service disturbed them as they are also pay taxes to the national exchequer for using the services.
He prayed to the court to restrain the government fromsuspending the phone service on the eve of Eid-ul-Azha.
The SHC’s division bench headed by Justice Maqbool Baqar after hearing the petitioner’s counsel and federal law officer directed the interior ministry not to suspend the cellular phone service unless it is absolutely inevitable.
The court observed that in case such an exercise has to be done it should be done through a speaking order with a cogent reason for specific areas and a specific duration only. Disposing of the petition, the court observed that the interpretation of section 54 of the PTA Act shall be done and the implication shall be examined at a later stage in case separate proceedings are filed on a later stage.
Online adds: The Sindh High Court has barred the government from suspending mobile phone service on its own.
A two-member bench of Sindh High Court comprising Justice Maqbool Baqir and Justice Nadeem Akhtar has bound the government to get permission from the president if it intends to suspend mobile phone services.
The petitioner, Nehal Hashmi, held the stance that access to information is among the fundamental rights and the government can block the cellular phone services only through the approval of the country’s president.