ISLAMABAD: The top court has allowed the government to suspend cellular services under specific or special circumstances. The Supreme Court said this on Tuesday while hearing the petitions filed by the Ministry of Information and the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) against mobile phone companies here. The apex court ruled that the government can suspend cellular services under special circumstances and ordered the PTA and the IT ministry to come up with relevant standard operating procedures (SOPs) to do so. In April, the Supreme Court had set aside a 2018 order by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) in which it had ruled that the government could not suspend 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. “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.
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