Ursula Owusu Ekuful
An Accra High Court (Human Rights Division) has dismissed an application for interlocutory injunction against the implementation of the controversial $89 million Kelni-GVG contract which seeks to provide a common platform to monitor revenue patterns of telecommunication companies in the country.
The applicants, Sara Asafu-Adjaye and Maximus Ametorgoh, contended that the implementation of the platform when allowed to go through will infringe on their privacy.
The contract has become a subject of controversy between policy think-tank IMANI Africa and the Communications Ministry with the former arguing it was needless and expensive.
The ministry argues that it is meant for the design and implementation of a common platform for traffic monitoring, revenue assurance and mobile money monitoring.
But the plaintiffs who are not convinced with the term of the contract stormed court seeking an interlocutory injunction to restrain the government and its assigns from implementing and operationalizing a common platform to monitor revenues of telecommunication companies.
Attached to the suit are the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), National Communications Authority (NCA), the Attorney General, and the Telecommunications companies in the country.
The plaintiffs claim that the architecture of the common platform to be implemented is such that instead of connecting to only the billing node provided by the Telcos as stipulated under Act 864, the connection will be made to all the physical nodes, and it will be a breach of Article 18 (2) of the 1992 Constitution.
According to the applicants, the mobile networks have a statutory duty to protect their customers, including the plaintiffs under Section 73 of the Electronic Communications Act 2008 (Act 775) by ensuring that correspondence and communications of customers are not intercepted or interfered with.
The applicants also believe that the intended implementation of the common platform constitutes a real threat to the enjoyment of their fundamental human right to privacy, adding that the implementation of the common platform and its attendant breach of the applicant’s right to privacy will be irreparable.
However, the Ministry of Communications maintained that the law under which government was proceeding to monitor revenue from the telecommunication companies did not permit government to monitor calls, voice, and data, among others.
The court presided over by Justice Anthony Yeboah after evaluating the arguments of both lawyers for the applicants and the defendants dismissed the application, saying it has no merit and granting it would occasion loss of revenue to the state.
The court held that the applicants were “peddling ‘evidenceless’ fears” as the Telcos did not file any paper before the court to challenge the assertion that indeed the essence of the platform is for purposes of revenue assurance.
Justice Yeboah also held that the claims by the applicants that they were acting upon public concern cannot also be founded since the Telcos who are in a position to counter government assertion are simply silent.
He added that the silence of the Telcos leaves the court in no doubt that the fears of the applicants have no legal basis.
BY Gibril Abdul Razak