Govt Order to Block Non-Filer SIMs Still in Effect: Islamabad High Court

The Islamabad High Court held a hearing on Wednesday regarding the federal government’s decision to block mobile phone SIMs of non-filers.

The session addressed an application to lift the stay order against taking action on telecom companies that refused to block SIMs of non-filers.

Chief Justice Amir Farooq, who presided over the hearing, clarified that the injunction does not prevent the blocking of SIMs but was issued to protect the petitioners. He affirmed that the government’s order to block SIMs remains in effect.

The Chief Justice acknowledged that the government’s action might be part of broader economic reforms and indicated that the court would aim to resolve the case swiftly. The next hearing is scheduled for June, and both parties have been asked to agree on a specific date and inform the court. The hearing was adjourned until then.

It is noteworthy that on Monday, a leading telecom company informed the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) that it had blocked over 3,000 SIMs of non-filers under protest, with concerns about potential litigation with the tax department.

Last month, the FBR issued an Income Tax General Order (ITGO) to disable the mobile phone SIMs of over 0.5 million individuals who do not appear on the active taxpayer list but are required to file the Income Tax Return for the Tax Year 2023.

Following some delays, telecom operators agreed on May 10 to initiate the manual blocking process of SIMs in small batches.