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ISLAMABAD: The government has notified the establishment of Telecommunication Appellate Tribunal – a long-standing demand of the telecom sector to handle telecom sector disputes and cases, instead of high courts.

Caretaker Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication Dr Umar Saif said that telecom sector disputes and cases will now be handled by a specialized Telecom Tribunal, instead of High Courts.

Dr Saif said that for the first time in Pakistan’s history, a Telecommunication Appellate Tribunal has been established and its gazette notification has been issued.

According to the gazette notification, the Tribunal will have three members including the chairperson, who will be a judge of a high court or an advocate with experience of up to 15 years.

The gazette has said that all the appeals and cases related to the IT and telecom sector pending before any High Court will be transferred to the Telecommunication Appellate Tribunal, within one month.

The appeals against the decision of the Tribunal can be filed at the Supreme Court within 60 days.

The chairperson and the members of the Tribunal have yet to be appointed government, but it was more likely that the process would be completed by the incoming government elected in the February 8 elections.

The law states that the chairperson and members of the tribunal will hold office for four years and will be eligible for re-appointment for a similar term or terms and shall cease to hold office on attaining the age of 68 years or on the expiry of the term, unless renewed, whichever is earlier.

If the chairperson of the tribunal is a retired judge of a high court, he/ she will be entitled to the salary, perks and privileges as were last drawn as the judge, and in case the advocate is appointed as chairperson, he/she will be entitled to the salary, perks and privileges of MP-I scale of the federal government.

One member of the tribunal needs to have masters level professional degree in electrical, electronics, telecommunications, information and communication technology or information security or other related subjects with at least 10 years of relevant experience including at least five years of experience at the senior management level in the public or private sector.

The other member too will have master level professional degree in finance, commerce, economics, charted accountancy or other related subject with at least 10 years of relevant experience including at least five years of experience at senior management level in the public or private sector. The members will be entitled to salary, perks and privileges of MP-I scale.

Dr Saif while sharing the information on his official social media account, said that the move was aimed at expediting the resolution of legal issues and facilitating rapid progress in the telecom sector.

The Telecom Tribunal, according to the minister, will consist of technical experts who will be responsible for deciding all appeals filed by aggrieved parties comprehensively and swiftly.

The establishment of this tribunal is expected to alleviate the burden on High Courts concerning the adjudication of technical matters related to the telecom sector.

The minister believes that this specialized approach will lead to faster and more efficient resolution of disputes, contributing to the overall advancement of the telecom industry.

According to the minister, the Tribunal will work under the Presidential Ordinance in the absence of parliament. He said that the establishment of the tribunal was a long-standing demand of the telecom sector and this move would provide a great relief to the industry and resolve multiple cases that were in limbo. The minister further said that the Ministry of Law would nominate the chairman and members of the tribunal according to the ordinance. The chairman of the tribunal can only be a judge of the High Court or a lawyer with 15 years of experience. Similarly, there will be two members of the tribunal who will be technocrats, and their number can be increased or decreased according to the time.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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