Islamabad - The Islamabad High Court on Tuesday suspended a single bench verdict that had declared illegal the suspension of mobile phone service on special occasions on the pretext of security.

IHC division bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Moshin Akhtar Kayani heard an intra-court appeal (ICA) moved by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority and suspended the single bench’s verdict till the first week of May.

The division bench said that the suspension order was interim and will be vacated in the first week of May unless the court issues directives in this regard.

During the hearing, Ministry of Interior Farah Additional Secretary Hamid contended that in the past, whenever they received directives about the closure of the cellular service, they followed the order. He, however, said after the single bench verdict, it was not possible now for them to follow such orders when the security demanded so.

PTA counsel Manuwar Iqbal said that the security situation in Islamabad was very susceptible while the federal government was going to mark the National Day on March 23.

He requested the court to invalidate the single bench’s verdict of February 26 till the adjudication of the ICA.

In his 15-page verdict on February 26, Justice Athar Minallah said that “the actions, orders and directives issued by the federal government or the authority (PTA), as the case may be, which are inconsistent with the provisions of section 54(3) are declared as illegal, ultra vires and without lawful authority and jurisdiction.”

He had said that the federal government or the PTA were not vested with powers and jurisdiction to suspend or cause the suspension of mobile cellular services or operations on the ground of national security except as provided in section 54(3) that is regarding proclamation of emergency by the president.

In their petition, CM Pak Limited and others had stated that their fundamental rights were being violated when the cellular services were suspended.

They had argued that they were licence-holders and got radio frequency spectrum through an open bidding and they were being compelled to suspend services on the basis of mere apprehensions infringed the fundamental rights and breached the company’s obligations to provide uninterrupted voice and data services customers.

They had adopted that the mobile phone service usually remains suspended during protests, sit-ins, Muharram, Rabiul Awal, important funerals and other occasions.