The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has ordered the Minister of Information and Technology to prepare a report highlighting the federal government’s policy and criteria to ban popular social media sites as they are abused by only a few users.
The Chief Justice’s Islamabad High Court, Athar Minallah, issued a directive in a petition filed with the court by the Vice President of the Pakistan Kickboxing Association, Muhammad Ashfaq Jutt, through attorney.
The applicant submitted a petition in accordance with Article 199 of the Constitution and responded as the secretary of the Ministry, the secretary for information and communication technologies and the head of the ATC.
The complainant argued that the ban on TikTok was contrary to the Cybercrime Prevention Act 2016, the Pakistani Telecommunications Network (Reorganization) Act 1996, fundamental rights enshrined in the Pakistani Constitution, and the doctrine of legitimate trust.
In its ruling, the IHC stated that a Pakistani Telecommunications Authority (PTA) lawyer was unable to provide a reasonable explanation for the absolute ban on TikTok.
The PBA attorney referred to rulings from the Peshawar High Court and the Sindh High Court. However, he did not show a command to urge authorities to streamline absolute access to applications.
During the hearing, the applicant’s lawyer drew the court’s attention to the opinion given by the authorities to the Sindh Supreme Court. Read the relevant section that says; “There are 16.5 million TikTok users in Pakistan, and since several users have requested and illegally posted inappropriate videos on TikTok, the majority of users (approximately 99%) cannot be denied access to TikTok.”
The Chief Justice found that one percent of Pakistan’s 16.5 million users misrepresented the app, and that the same body required the Primary Health Care Commission and the Primary Health Care Center to make the ban unfounded. He added that the ban imposed by the authorities was inconsistent with the principle of proportionality.
He also noted that the technology is unbiased. According to the authorities’ position before IHC, TikTok is a platform legally used by 99% of Pakistani users to express their talent and creativity. He noted that it has also become a source of income for many of the app’s users, most of whom belong to marginalized groups in society.
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