ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday summoned the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) chairman in the audio leak case, after his counsel denied that the regulatory body had given any permission for call interception.

The case is related to the petitions filed by Najam Saqib, the son of former chief justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar, and Bushra Bibi, the spouse of former prime minister Imran Khan.

Both the petitioners challenged the inquiries initiated against them on the basis of an alleged audio leak, which went viral on the social media before being broadcast in the national media.

When Justice Babar Sattar of the IHC resumed the hearing, the directors general of Intelligence Bureau (IB) and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) were in attendance.

Appearing before the bench, Advocate Irfan Qadir representing the PTA chairman informed the court that his client was in official visit to Bar­celona and would return in three to four days.

While the PTA official had earlier informed the court that there was a provision of call interception in the legal framework, Adv­ocate Qadir apprised the court that the PTA did not give permission for this.

Noting the authority’s in­consistent statements in the case, Justice Sattar qu­e­stioned the authenticity of the PTA’s earlier submissions and whether the chairman had complied with the court order to submit an affidavit clarifying their position.

The judge then summoned the PTA chairman to appear in person before the court on March 14.

The IHC also asked the IB DG Fuad Asadullah to explain the procedure for legal interception and inquired about the measures to protect the privacy of citizens. “Are telecom operators allowed phone tapping?” Justice Sattar questioned. He remarked that telecom operators would have to respond to this issue.

The IB DG said the prime responsibility of the intelligence agencies was to keep a check on enemies of state. However, he requested the judge to hear the details in chamber.

The court later adjourned the proceedings till March 14.

Published in Dawn, March 5th, 2024

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