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IHC asks PTA to explain why TikTok ban order should not be suspended

IHC notes that questions raised by the petitioner needed consideration

By Web Desk
October 17, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Saturday ordered the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to send a senior officer at the next hearing of a petition filed against the TikTok ban, seeking an explanation from the authority on why the order to ban the Chinese-owned app should not be suspended.

On October 9, the PTA had blocked the short video mobile application citing the company’s failure to “fully comply" with its instructions for “development of an effective mechanism for proactive moderation of unlawful online content”.

The petitioner, who stated that he was a well-known athlete, argued that TikTok provides a platform for talented Pakistani citizens to exercise their right of expression and to demonstrate creativity.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah presided over the hearing and issued a three-page written order after hearing the initial arguments.

"The Authority is directed to nominate a senior officer to appear before this Court on the next date fixed and explain why proceedings may not be initiated for violating the directions given by this Court in the aforementioned judgments and why the order of banning 'TikTok' app may not be suspended," he wrote.

The IHC noted that the questions raised by the petitioner needed consideration. It called on President Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (FUJ), Mazhar Abbas, Vice Chairman Pakistan Bar Council, and former Information Minister Javed Jabbar to aid the judiciary over the alleged misuse of PTA powers and "assist the court on the question of violation of fundamental constitutional rights."

PTA ban on Tiktok challenged in SHC

Earlier on Tuesday, the ban on the video-sharing app TikTok by the PTA was challenged in the Sindh High Court (SHC).

The petitioner had argued that there are 20 million users of TikTok in Pakistan and the ban is a violation of the Constitution's Article 19.

Article 19 states: "Every citizen shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression, and there shall be freedom of the press, subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interest of the glory of Islam or the integrity, security or defence of Pakistan or any part thereof friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, [commission of] or incitement to an offence."

The petitioner stated that whoever is misusing the app should be penalised and his ID should be blocked, rather than placing a blanket ban on TikTok. "It is unreasonable to block the entire application," he added.

He requested the SHC intervene and lift the ban on the video-sharing app. The petition was accepted for hearing on October 15.