IHC Seeks Explanation From PTA Over TikTok Ban

Yesterday, the Islamabad High Court (IHC)  has asked for an explanation from the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) for banning social media platform TikTok. This happened after Ishfaq Jatt (a well-known athlete, who won the “World Championship of Kickboxing” in 2016) through a counsel filed a petition in IHC.

IHC Seeks Explanation From PTA Over TikTok Ban

According to the counsel, the petitioner is dissatisfied and aggrieved on account of actions taken by the PTA which has led to the banning of video-sharing platform TikTok. According to the petition,

Petition says the app provides a platform to talented citizens to exercise right of expression and to demonstrate creativity.

The counsel maintained that the PTA actions were breaching Section 37 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016. It has also been argued that even after the IHC directives vide order, dated Sept 12, 2019, in the Awami Worker Party (AWP) versus PTA case, the authority and the federal government had unfortunately failed to meet their statutory obligations under subsection (2) of Section 37 of the Act of 2016. Consequently, the powers given under sub-section (1) ibid were being misused.

The court selected Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) president Shehzada Zulfiqar, Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) vice-chairman Abid Saqi, journalist Mazhar Abbas and former information minister Javed Jabbar as amici curiae (friends of the court) for supporting it in the matter, specifically concerning the question of alleged misuse of powers by the PTA vested under the Act of 2016 which as a result infringes the fundamental rights ensured under Articles 19 and 19-A of the Constitution.

It may also be considered that IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah had in September 2018 disposed of the AWP’s petition and mentioned that the PTA doesn’t have the power to block any website without framing rules. Chief Justice Minallah had also ordered that,

The PTA is definitely not empowered to pass an order or take action under Section 37 [of Peca] in derogation of the mandatory requirements of due process.

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