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TikTok suffers legal setback; SoftBank to invest up to $4 bn more in India

TikTok suffers legal setback; SoftBank to invest up to $4 bn more in India
Photo Credit: Reuters

The Supreme Court has refused to allow a plea by short-video app TikTok which sought to transfer a case against the company in the Madras High Court to the apex court, various media reports said.

The Chinese company withdrew its petition after a bench comprising Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Deepak Gupta ruled that the Madras High Court is capable of handling the case. "We are not inclined to entertain this transfer petition. The Madras High Court can very well address all the issues," the bench was quoted as saying.

In an April 3 order, the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court had asked the central government to ban downloads of TikTok in response to a petition filed by a Madurai-based lawyer and social activist.

The directive was issued on the grounds of promotion of obscene content and child pornography apart from TikTok’s “addictive” nature.

TikTok had subsequently announced that it had built a feature to prevent children under 13 from accessing the app and had removed six million videos since July 2018 which violated community guidelines.

The apex court had on April 15 refused TikTok owner ByteDance’s plea to stay the order by the Madras High Court. The company had claimed that the ban was resulting in "financial losses" of up to $500,000 a day.

Subsequently, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) directed Google and Apple to take down TikTok from their respective mobile app stores. Third-party downloads and existing users, however, had remained unaffected.

Later in the same month, the Madras High Court lifted the ban.

TikTok, which is owned by Chinese content giant ByteDance, claimed to have 120 million monthly active users in India at last count.

SoftBank’s India plans

Japan's SoftBank Vision Fund plans to invest at least $2-4 billion in India in the next two years, The Economic Times reported.

The $100-billion Saudi-backed fund will explore opportunities outside internet and technology-based companies to back ideas in new segments such as financial services.

Citing Rajeev Misra, the CEO of the SoftBank Vision Fund, the report said the company will add more than 20 firms to its portfolio in India by forming joint ventures with local companies in the country.

The Japanese investment firm has been actively investing in Indian startups. It has previously backed online retailers Flipkart, Snapdeal, Paytm, Ola, Grofers and PolicyBazaar.

In its more recent bets in India, the company led a $413 million (Rs 2,890 crore then) funding into Gurugram-based logistics company Delhivery in March this  year.

SoftBank, the world's largest technology investor, had agreed to sell its stake in Flipkart to US-based retailer Walmart Inc. last year.

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