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October 18, 2020

IHC hints at unbanning TikTok

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October 18, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) in its order on a plea against a temporary ban on TikTok hinted at suspension of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority’s (PTA) temporary ban on the popular Chinese app.

Chief Justice Athar Minallah, who heard a petition challenging the PTA’s October 9 move of banning the app, issued a three-page order, directing the authority to nominate a senior officer to appear before the court on next hearing. The court asked the PTA to explain why proceedings may not be initiated against it for violating the court directions given in previous judgments and why the order of banning the app may not be suspended. The judge 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 on the alleged misuse of powers by the PTA and "assist the court on the question of violation of fundamental constitutional rights."

A citizen, Ashfaq Jatt moved the petition challenging the PTA’s ban.

The petitioner’s lawyer pleaded that the regulatory body had slapped the ban without fulfilling legal requirements.

“The PTA banned the app by issuing a press release instead of a clear order,” he said.

There is no room for a temporary ban under Section 37 (i) of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, he argued.

It is noteworthy that a constitutional petition challenging the ban has also been filed with the Sindh High Court (SHC).

The petitioner, Munib Ahmed, pleaded that more than 20 million people used the application.

“The government’s move to block the app because of a few people misusing it is uncalled for,” he argues. The petitioner pleaded with the high court to declare the ban unlawful.