ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has issued notices to Secretary Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) Chairman and others on a petition challenging the ban on video-sharing focused social networking service TikTok.
Muhammad Ashfaq Jutt, a senior vice-president of Pakistan Kickboxing Federation, filed a writ petition under Article-199 of the Constitution of Pakistan, making Secretary Cabinet Division, Secretary Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication, and the PTA Chairman respondents.
The petitioner contended that the ban on TikTok was ultra vires the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016, the Pakistan Telecommunication (Re-organization) Act, 1996, the fundamental rights as enshrined in the Constitution of Pakistan, and the doctrine of Legitimate Expectation under the Law.
The PTA on July 21, 2021 had banned TikTok.
The petitioner maintained that the PTA (Respondent 3) had been directed by the High Courts on numerous times through several orders and judgements to frame rules pursuant to the application of the relevant Sections of the Prevention of Electronic Crime Act, 2016. However, the PTA failed to comply with the High Courts’ directions to frame the appropriate rules to structure its powers.
Instead, the PTA illegally framed rules to enlarge its powers to abuse the Act of 2016, stated petitioner, adding that the PTA earlier had banned the application but when it was challenged by the petitioner vide writ petition no 3028/2020, the PTA lifted ban on TikTok.
The petition said that in M/s Proximal Beta Pte Ltd vs. Federation of Pakistan, (writ petition no 1788/2020), the IHC had irected the Authority not to arbitrarily employ the Act of 2016 in restricting the fundamental rights of citizens.
The petitioner further maintained that the IHC, in writ petition no 634/2020, titled Awami Workers Party (AWP) vs. Pakistan Telecom Authority had already directed Respondent No 3 to prescribe rules for the purpose of section 37(2) of the Act of 2016.
The Respondent 3 has not made rules as required under Section 37(2) of the Act of 2016 but has exceeded the scope of this section in their prescribed rules.
The PTA’s action of blocking an entire medium of communication, downloaded by approximately 39 million users in Pakistan, due to a very few “inappropriate” videos has taken away the income source of millions of Pakistani citizens, the petitioner contended.
The court adjourned the hearting to August 6.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021