Islamabad High Court Orders to Stop Blocking Mobile Phone SIMs of Non-Filers

Islamabad High Court has temporarily stopped the federal government from initiating the nationwide blocking process of SIMs of over 500,000 non-filers.

A notice has been issued to the federal government in this regard, with the next hearing on the matter scheduled for May 27, 2024.

IHC Chief Justice Aamir Fariiq issued an injunction in response to a writ petition filed by a prominent telecom operator. The petition challenged Clause 114-B of the Income Tax Ordinance and the Federal Board of Revenue’s (FBR) Income Tax General Orders against non-filers.

The petitioner argued that the tax regulator’s new-found authority violated the fundamental right to freedom of business under Article 18 of the Constitution. He said the government does not have the power to block people’s phones under this constitutional provision and called it coercive.

The petitioner warned that if implemented, this law would allow the government to deprive citizens of services in other business areas as well.

This comes just days after most telecom operators succumbed to government pressure and agreed to initiate the manual blocking process of SIMs in small batches till full automation of the system.

Telecom operators last week started sending messages to non-filers regarding the blocking of SIMs for intimation purposes.

Published by
Ahsan Gardezi