Taking note of the fact that the Madras High Court has posted the case against Tik Tok on April 24, the Supreme Court today refrained from passing any orders on the appeal by the mobile app's operator.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said if the Madras High Court fails to decided on the plea of TikTok app against the ban by April 24, then its ban order will stand automatically lifted.
While acting on a PIL by an advocate seeking ban of the app, the High Court had on April 3 directed the state authorities to prohibit downloading of TikTok Mobile Application and prohibited media from telecasting the videos made using the app. The Court said that the app was "inappropriate" for children and exposed them to several dangers.
Later, the Madras High Court did not accept the request of the Bytedance Technology Pvt Ltd - the Indian operator and marketer of the app- to suspend the ban imposed by ex-parte order. The bench of Justices Kirubakaran and S S Sundar appointed Senior Advocate Arvind P Datar as amicus curiae to assist the Court and posted the matter to April 24 for further hearing.
Following this Google and Apple removed the app from their playstore.
Bytedance has approached the Supreme Court, contending that the order was passed without hearing them. It further argued that the mobile platform is an intermediary as per Section 2(w) of the Information Technology Act, and that it cannot be held liable for actions of third parties on the platform. The app-operator relied on Section 79 of the IT Act which provides protection to intermediaries.
Bytedance said that the app is for circulation of "fun" and "amusing" videos, and posed no threat to life, liberty and security of an individual. Only a minuscule percentage of videos - 0.0006 %- is flagged as inappropriate by users, and an overwhelming majority of persons are using it legitimately for personal entertainment and expression, stated the app operator in its petition in SC.
TikTok, which allows users to create and share short videos with special effects, has become hugely popular in India. It had been downloaded more than 240 million times in India, app analytics firm Sensor Tower said in February. More than 30 million users in India installed it in January 2019, 12 times more than in the same month last year.