Illegal SIMs: task force to submit report to Supreme Court tomorrow
The task force constituted by the Supreme Court on illegal SIMs has finalised its report and would submit it to the apex court on Monday, it is learnt. The task force met Friday with Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) Chairman Dr Syed Ismail Shah in the chair. Ways and means were finalised as per the directives of the SC to handle the issue of illegal SIMs. The task force would meet again on January 14, 2014 to review the implementation status in light of the recommendations to be submitted in the Court.
The SC has constituted a task force, comprising PTA, cellular phone companies and representatives of law enforcement and intelligence agencies to regulate a mechanism for blocking unauthorised SIMs. A larger bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary comprising justices Jawwad Khawaja, Mian Saqib Nisar, Amir Hani Muslim and Ejaz Afzal Khan, made the decision in the light of suo motu hearing of the Karachi law and order case. The court had pointed out that the use of unauthorised SIMs by terrorists and criminals is a major cause of unrest. It ordered the PTA and private cellular cos to come up with a temporary arrangement to get rid of the menace and then take steps to remove the problem permanently. The PTA will also keep a check on the types of phones being imported. Customs authorities will have to ensure that only phones with proper IMEI numbers to be given clearance. The PTA chief will conduct regular meetings either in Islamabad or at any other PTA headquarters where the members will submit their suggestions. Progress reports will be sent to the court, as well as the provincial and federal governments within three weeks, the order stated. The PTA, cellular companies and law enforcement agencies had placed interim arrangements till finalisation of the task force recommendations.
According to the interim arrangements, (1) not more than two SIMs are activated per IMEI every day (2) no one can have more than five SIMs per IMEI (3) all cellular companies will call people who have more than 10 SIMs registered and answer a secret question (such as mother’s name or place of birth). Those who answer correctly will be asked to reduce their SIMs to five. All other SIMs will be blocked (4) cellular companies and PTA will identify numbers that seem suspicious due to usage or location and block them if their secret information is not verified (5) companies will keep strict check on their retailers and franchises (6) PTA will approve certain types of phones only (7) customs authorities will not allow import of phones without proper IMEIs.