close
Friday April 12, 2024

SHC upholds injunction ordering uninterrupted internet access till polls

SHC CJ says it seems as if the internet will only function properly after the elections

By Amin Anwar
February 06, 2024
Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram apps are seen on a smartphone in this illustration taken, July 13, 2021. — Reuters
Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram apps are seen on a smartphone in this illustration taken, July 13, 2021. — Reuters

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) maintained its stay order on Tuesday, directing the government to provide nationwide uninterrupted internet service, including mobile internet access, until the general elections on February 8.

The SHC ordered the relevant authorities on January 24 to make sure that all residents of the country have continuous access to internet services through the elections.

In its order, the high court restrained the authorities from suspending internet services and directed the respondents to submit their response on January 29.

During the hearing of a case today, SHC Chief Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi expressed dismay over the suspension of internet services, saying: "How would the internet work anywhere else when it's not even working for them [judges]"

He remarked that it seemed as if the internet would function properly after the elections.

The high court adjourned the hearing till February 21 as a lawyer for the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) failed to appear before the court.

PS-110’s independent candidate and rights activist Advocate Jibran Nasir had filed the petition in the SHC against the frequent suspension of internet services in the country ahead of the general elections.

Caretaker Minister for Information Murtaza Solangi Monday turned down the possibility of an internet shutdown on February 8 with more than 128 million voters expected to exercise their fundamental right to elect their representatives.

Speaking on a private news channel, Solangi acknowledged that local administrations have the authority to decide on internet shutdown in light of the law and order situation, however, he stressed that no such situation has so far been reported.

His remarks come as the country has witnessed multiple internet disruptions in the run-up to the upcoming general elections, most notably on December 7 and 17, and then again later on January 20 last month.

The government's failure to disclose specific reasons for these internet disruptions, except for the one on January 20 which was termed a "technical fault" by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), has given way to concerns regarding possible internet shutdown on the poll day.

On Sunday, caretaker Balochistan Information Minister Jan Achakzai announced that the internet service will remain temporarily restricted in the sensitive polling booths in the province on election day.