Government decision of allowing phone tapping by ISI challenged in IHC

The federal government’s notification mandating ISI and other agencies to intercept and record calls and messages of citizens has been challenged in the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

Pakistan Bar Council’s six members challenged the notification by filing the plea in the IHC, making IT secretary, Defence secretary, Interior secretary and PTA secretary respondents.

The petitioners include Shafqat Mehmood Chohan, Abid Zuberi, Chaudhry Ishtiaq, Munir Ahmed Kakar, Tahir Faraz Abbasi and Abid Saqi.

The petition implied that the notification issued under Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) Act section 54 is illegal and the Fair Trial Act 2013 has complete mechanism for this matter.

Petitioners request the court to annul the notification of phone tapping by ISI and agencies declaring it illegal.

Petitioners plead to the court to declare the notification null and void until the case is pending.

It is pertinent to note that another plea has already been filed in the Lahore High Court challenging the notification of intercepting the phone.

The country’s premier spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), has been mandated by the federal government to intercept and trace phone calls and messages due to perceived threats to national security.

This development coincides with ongoing court proceedings concerning petitions challenging alleged audio leaks involving former prime minister Imran Khan's spouse Bushra Bibi, and Najam Saqib, the son of retired chief justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar.

On June 25, the Islamabad High Court noted the absence of legislation in the country governing phone tapping, implying that current practices are illegal.

The move is also being seen as a precursor to stricter social media regulations, especially since the popular platform X remains banned.