Panthers Party moves apex court over pre-paid mobile ban (Lead)

New Delhi, Nov 16 ( Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party chief Bhim Singh has approached the Supreme Court for restoration of pre-paid mobile phone connections in Kashmir, and said the union home ministry ban was based on “imaginary assumptions”.

An apex court bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice B.S. Chauhan Monday asked the central government to respond on the issue within two weeks.

Bhim Singh demanded that the union home ministry’s Oct 30 order banning pre-paid mobile service in Jammu and Kashmir be scrapped. “It would be in the interest of the rule of law and the preservation of the basic and fundamental rights of the citizens of India, residing in Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.

The ban order, he contended, “has been issued on imaginary assumptions that pre-paid mobile SIM cards are being issued to the terrorists without proper and adequate verification”.

He said that failure, if any, in making proper verification of users was an administrative lapse, for which the people of the state must not be penalised and inconvenienced.

He said that the government’s move has left jobless over 20,000 youths, engaged in small-time jobs of selling pre-paid mobile SIMs.

The Panthers Party chief also said that the ban has rendered over 3.8 million telephones dead, and over 25,000 special police officers and village defence committee members operating in far-flung areas of the state have been disconnected from their operational headquarters.

Singh alleged that the government move was aimed to benefit the cellular operators who would earn a tidy sum of Rs.1.95 billion by converting 750,000 pre-paid mobile telephone customers into post-paid ones.