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Ban on Telecom Inaami Schemes by PTA

PTA (Pakistan Telecommunication Authority) has sent a letter to all telecom operators including Warid, Ufone, Telenor, Mobilink and Zong. The letter asked these operators to stop running their prize schemes. It was mentioned in the letter that all companies should immediately stop their inaami schemes. After this warning if the inaami schemes are not stopped, a legal action will be taken against the companies for non-compliance. Companies are asked to submit compliance report on March 21st.

It is not the first time that PTA sent telecommunication companies this letter. Last year in April 2012, a letter was sent to telecommunication companies to stop all inaami schemes. This action was taken because PTA was getting a lot of complaints from consumers of these services and Chief Justice while hearing a case related to inaami schemes said that “All prize winning or inaami schemes which promote gambling are against Islamic values” and thus directed PTA to stop these schemes. These schemes were classified as misleading by PTA and were considered violating the Telecom Consumer Protection Regulation. Therefore PTA asked all relevant companies to stop these schemes immediately in order to avoid strict legal action.

Despite the warning letter, Warid Telecom’s “SMS Crore Ka” and Ufone’s “ShahCar” offers kept running. As soon as this warning was issued, the very next day Warid and Ufone approached Islamabad High Court and obtained a stay order against PTA’s warning letter ordering them to close down all the inaami schemes immediately. The stance taken by these companies was that the Supreme Court did not directly ordered to stop all the schemes and the intention was to close down all such inaami schemes that were poorly structured and somehow promoting the gambling culture. They further emphasized that it was not possible for the companies to immediately stop these inaami schemes because many stakeholders are involved as well as large investments are on the stake. According to some sources, these companies also claim that no human element is involved during the prize draw and all process is carried out by a third party computer program so there is no fraud involved.

On March 8th 2013, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) dismissed the petition filed by telecom companies and re-directed PTA to implement the regulations immediately. So now PTA has written a letter to Telecommunication companies once again and this time there is no escape for these companies. Either they comply or face legal action.

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