IHC issues notices to PTA, federal government over ban on Tik Tok

Court adjourns hearing till next Friday

Saqib Bashir October 15, 2020


The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday issued notices to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), federal government and Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication (MOITT) over the ban on social media application Tik Tok.

The court summoned a senior officer from the PTA to appear before the court and explain why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against PTA officials for not complying with the court's earlier order, directing PTA to frame rules for exercising its powers under PECA 2016.

"Has PTA framed rules under Article 37 of PECA 2016?" the court inquired.

"The rules have not been outlined yet. The court has given 90 days to the PTA," the counsel of the petitioner said.

"The PTA violated two court decisions by banning Tik Tok," Advocate Usama Khawar, counsel for the petitioner said.

Chief Justice Athar Minallah asked what Tik Tok is, to which the counsel responded that it is a video sharing application on social media.

The counsel stated that earlier, PTA had banned Players Unidentified Battleground (PUBG) which was declared null and void by the same court.

The court ordered PTA not to engage in such illegal activities.

"Hasn't India banned Tik Tok?" CJ Minallah questioned. The petitioner replied that the ban was imposed in the United States (US) but the decision is still pending.

The court inquired if the ban was due to security reasons. "In this way the entire internet will have to be shut down," Chief Justice Minallah remarked, adding that it is not like a crime has been committed on the motorway and the entire motorway should be closed because of it.

The IHC also appointed President of Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists Shehzada Zulfiqar, Vice Chairman Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) Abid Saqi, Journalist Mazhar Abbas and Javed Jabbar as amici to assist the court on banning of online platforms and implications for freedom of expression and speech and right to access information under Article 19 and 19A of the Constitution and alleged misuse of PECA.

In addition, they will also consider how freedom of expression and access to information can be curtailed by PTA on vague criteria of immoral and decent content.

The court adjourned the hearing till next Friday.


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