Centre Approaches Rajasthan High Court to Restrict Potential Challenges to Chinese App Ban

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The Centre has petitioned the Rajasthan HC to stop any of the Chinese entities from getting an injunction to block the order about the app ban. This was observed in a report given by two sources from Reuters.

Facts of the case 

The order was passed to safeguard the interests of Internet users. Also, it ensures the safety and sovereignty of Indian Cyber Space. The following was the highlight in the Reuters report.

India last month outlawed dozens of Chinese apps including-: 

  • ByteDance’s popular
  • video-sharing app TikTok
  • Alibaba’s UC Browser
  • Tencent’ messaging app
  • WeChat

They said that these pose a threat to sovereignty and integrity of the country. Moreover, Chinese firms have faced hostility since a border clash that killed 20 Indian soldiers in Ladakh. There is intensifying scrutiny of Chinese imports and any funding from China.

This was also seen as a retributive step taken by the government against China. This step was in the light of the Chinese incursions into Ladakh. So far, this has been one of the recent developments in the rising tension between India and China.

Arguments Advanced

Indian government has petitioned the HC in Rajasthan to stop any of the Chinese companies from getting an injunction to block the order. This was in accordance to two sources working for Reuters and the legal filing. It was not immediately clear why the government approached the court in Rajasthan. Though there are rumours of plans to file similar petitions elsewhere. 

India’s IT ministry and the Chinese Embassy did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Indian courts did not comment on cases.

Previously, China has expressed strong concern about the ban. It could hurt expansion plans and cost jobs. It pointed out that it may violate World Trade Organization (WTO) rules. But, none of the Chinese companies have yet mounted a legal challenge. Though industry sources are saying they are waiting for further clarity from government.

The IT ministry recently asked the companies associated with the 59 apps to answer a detailed questionnaire.

A time limit for the same is fixed. It should be within three weeks on business structure and data storage practices. The decision to ban the apps has jolted companies like ByteDance, as it counted on India as an important growth market.

Court’s Observation

Two sources said the government had presented a so- called caveat in the High Court of Rajasthan. This suggests that it expects one or more of the companies to challenge the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology’s ban.

Such caveats are there to prevent a ruling in favour of companies without hearing the government, as was an observation made by Indian lawyers. The filing, which one of the sources said on Friday, has not been reported.

Decision

Finally, Rajasthan HC has taken the slow approach by not affirming, the same. ”Let nothing be done till the applicants (government) are heard in the matter”, said the Court. The order was signed by Additional Solicitor General of India Rajdeepak Rastogi.


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