IHC seeks clarity on its jurisdiction for restoration of internet services in former FATA

CJ asks petitioner's counsel to seek judicial assistance in light of SC's recent verdict


Saqib Bashir May 11, 2020
PHOTO: COURTESY IHC WEBSITE/FILE

Hearing the petition for restoration of 3G and 4G internet services in tribal areas, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) sought clarity on its jurisdiction upon receiving the home ministry and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government's replies on Monday.

The court directed the petitioner's counsel, Abdul Raheem, to seek judicial assistance in light of the Supreme Court's recent verdict on the matter.

The petitioner's counsel maintained that internet services have been suspended in tribal areas since 2016. He contended that universities are initiating online classes, but the lack of internet services can result in a lost semester.

"We had ruled that the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) cannot legally suspend services, but the Supreme Court annulled our decision," said IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah.

The CJ remarked that the IHC could not proceed without taking the apex court's decision into consideration. He directed the petitioner's counsel to read the SC's verdict and satisfy the court accordingly.

The former federally administered tribal areas (FATA) have now been merged with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, said Justice Minallah. He remarked that although the Centre claims restoration of 3G and 4G services is underway, the provincial government's role has to be factored in as well.

The deputy attorney general informed the court that the said services have been restored in Bajaur district.

CJ Minallah observed that the home ministry had also mentioned the provincial government's role in the restoration of internet services.

The CJ remarked that the petitioner's counsel would have to satisfy the court with regards to the IHC's jurisdiction in light of the provincial government's role. This court cannot give directives to a provincial government, he said.

Counsel Abdul Raheem prayed to the court to direct the home ministry to restore internet services [in the region]. To which CJ Minallah replied that according to the home ministry it has no part to play in the matter.

Earlier, the federal government was looking into the matter but now it has come under the purview of the provincial government, remarked the CJ.

The hearing was adjourned indefinitely.

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