The Centre on Friday justified in the Supreme Court its decision banning pre-paid mobile services in Jammu and Kashmir, saying that it was taken in the interest of national security and could not be revoked at this stage.
Making the Centre’s stand clear before a Bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice B.S. Chauhan, Solicitor-General Gopal Subramaniam said: “We cannot revoke the ban. It is due to security reasons that the ban on pre-paid mobile services has been imposed.”
He said the Centre had filed its response to the petition filed by the National Panthers Party challenging the ban order. The Bench posted the matter for further hearing on January 25 asking the petitioner to file rejoinder, if any.
The petitioner had contended that if a person could have post-paid connection and his verification was not doubtful, why can’t the same agency, methodology, system and procedure be adopted to verify the particulars of an individual in the case of pre-paid connections also.
The Centre said it had the responsibility to protect national interest and in discharge of this responsibility, it had from time to time issued directions to telecom service providers. The impugned direction was one such measure to protect national security.
“The Central government had received intelligence inputs that proper verification of the identity and address of the subscriber was not being done as per the directions of the government while providing pre-paid mobile connections by the service providers.”
It said: “Use of fake documents/identity numbers was also prevalent particularly in the case of pre-paid connections. The misuse of SIM cards by militants was noticed in 2007 by the J&K police which found that a SIM card used to trigger a landmine targeting an Army convoy was registered in a fake name.”
The Centre said that after the imposition of the ban, the government had received reports that it had a significant impact on the communication networks of terrorist and anti-national elements, who were previously using fraudulently obtained pre-paid connections. “An executive decision in the interest of national security cannot be subjected to judicial review,” it said and sought dismissal of the petition.