The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday called banning the ban on the “TikTok” app as an illegal move and directed the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) to nominate a senior officer to appear before the court on the next date of hearing and brief on the matter. In a detailed judgment, Chief Justice IHC Athar Minallah said that the move was against the fundamental human rights as it contradicts some clauses of the constitution of the country. “The Authority (PTA) and the Federal Government have failed to fulfill their respective statutory obligations under subsection (2) of section 37 of the Act of 2016 and thus the powers conferred under subsection (1) ibid are being abused,” he said. The judgment stated that the “TikTok” app has been banned by India on the ground of security concerns because it is owned by a Chinese company. According to the judgment the articles 19 and 19-A of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 guarantee the fundamental right of free speech and access to information while prohibition imposed by the Authority negates this right to speech. Moreover, the app provides a source of income to many talented citizens, particularly belonging to marginalized classes, and that the abuse of the platform by a few does not justify imposing a ban. The court took the matter on a petition filed by Muhammad Ashfaq Jutt, a well-known athlete, through council Usama Khawar. The court also nominated President of Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, Mazhar Abbas, former President Pakistan Bar Council and Javed Jabbar and former Federal Minister for legal assistance in the case. According to the details, the PTA, a few days back, issued instructions to impose a ban on the highly popular video-sharing app TikTok after receiving a “number of complaints from different segments of the society. In a statement, the PTA had said that several complaints were made “against immoral/indecent content” that was shared on the app. It said that earlier it issued a “final notice” to TikTok and gave the application “considerable time to respond and comply with” instructions for the development of an effective mechanism for proactive moderation of “unlawful online content”. However, the company “failed to fully comply” with PTA’s instructions after which the authority decided to ban it in the country. The statement added that PTA “is open for engagement” and would review its decision if TikTok develops a mechanism to moderate the content that is posted on the video-sharing platform. After the move, a strong reaction has been observed from different circles. Not only this,the Senate Committee on Delegated Legislation also criticised the telecom regulator for banning TikTok and noted that Pakistan has to pace up with global development and take corrective measures instead of adopting an isolationist approach. The members of the Committee maintained that blocking of social media platforms and restricting IT companies was not the answer to check the spread of questionable material. Such an approach by the regulator would push Pakistan off the development bandwagon, Senator Babar said. “It was essential to regulate content if that was violating the laws of the country instead of imposing a blanket ban on the whole application or platform,” he remarked. The committee asked the PTA to provide details of the rules under which TikTok had been blocked. The relevant officials, however, informed the committee that the ban was not a ‘permanent’ feature as it could be overturned once the app management assured the government that they would abide by the laws of Pakistan.