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Cellular Services can be Suspended under Special Circumstances

Pakistan’s apex court gave a go ahead allowing the government to suspend cellular services under special or uncommon conditions. The case hearing of the Ministry of Information and the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority’s (PTA) petitions against mobile phone companies was held today.

The court ordered the PTA and the IT ministry to prepare relevant Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for this. It may be mentioned here that in April this year Pakistan’s Supreme Court had set aside a 2018 order by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) that stopped the government from suspending mobile phone services on the pretext of public safety.

The IHC had said that the PTA and federal government’s actions and directives were inconsistent with the provisions of section 54(3) of the PTA Act 1996, as per media reports.

“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),” the order had read.

Earlier, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) had issued a public notice against illegal internet providers in the country and warned them to stop the illegal internet provision. This decision came after a high level meeting held under the chair of Prime Minister Imran Khan to review the internet provision for better online education and health facilities in the country.

PTA in its public notice said, “PTA warns all the illegal internet service providers to stop provisioning of internet services without a valid license. Only valid PTA licensees are authorized to provide internet services.”The public notice further warned, “In case, anyone is found providing internet services without license, legal action shall be initiated as per PTA Act.”

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