The Supreme Court on Tuesday granted two weeks time to the Centre and Jammu and Kashmir government to respond on a petition challenging the ban on pre-paid mobile phone services in the State.

A bench comprising Chief Justice K. G. Balakrishnan and Justices J. M. Panchal and B. S. Chauhan posted the matter for further hearing on January 8.

The Supreme Court had on November 16 issued notices to the Ministries of Home and Telecom and the State government asking them to respond within two weeks about security concerns and economical issues raised in the PIL, filed by the Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party.

The PIL had challenged imposition of the ban on pre-paid mobile services in the border State.

Advocate Bhim Singh, who is the Chairman of the party, had contended that the government’s order to ban pre-paid cell phone services in the State from November 1 was “authoritarian and arbitrary”.

The government has ordered that no fresh pre-paid mobile connections be issued in Jammu and Kashmir and existing pre-paid SIM cards not be renewed in the State after November 1 for reasons of security.

According to the PIL, the ban has resulted into 20,000 youths losing their jobs.