Madras HC refuses to stay ban on TikTok, appoints Arvind Datar as independent counsel

Madras HC refuses to stay ban on TikTok, appoints Arvind Datar as independent counsel

Meera Emmanuel

The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Tuesday refused to stay its ban on the download of video-sharing mobile application TikTok.

The Bench comprising of Justices N Kirubakaran and SS Sundar has, however, reportedly directed the appointment of Senior Advocate Arvind Datar as independent counsel in the case. Datar’s appointment was directed in order to examine the implications of the TikTok app.

Senior Advocate Arvind Datar
Senior Advocate Arvind Datar

During the hearing yesterday, TikTok reportedly submitted before the Court that it has technology in place to filter inappropriate content. Nevertheless, the Bench declined to stay its ban and adjourned the matter to April 24. The Court has indicated that its primary concern is regarding the safety of TikTok users. However, before reconsidering the restriction imposed on the download of the app, the Bench has indicated that it wants to examine written submissions in the matter.

The Court had ordered a ban on the download and use of the video-sharing app on April 3. To this end, it had issued the following directions:

  • The Government is directed to prohibit downloading of TikTok Mobile App.
  • The Media is prohibited from telecasting the videos made using TikTok Mobile App.
  • The Government has to answer whether the Union of India will enact a statute, like the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, enacted by the United States, to prevent the children becoming cyber/online victims.

In response, TikTok had moved the Supreme Court against the Madras High Court’s order, contending that the High Court’s ex-parte order was arbitrary and illegal. Inter alia, TikTok has submitted that the ban on the download and use of the app not only curtails its right to freedom of speech and expression but that it would also lead to financial losses and loss of jobs.

When the matter came up before the Supreme Court on Monday, however, the Bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjiv Khanna declined to stay the Madras High Court judgment. Instead, it listed the matter for April 22, on which date the Court is to be apprised of the developments at the Madras High Court in the case.

Following yesterday’s development, the TikTok app has now been removed by both Google and Apple from their online stores.

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