ISLAMABAD: A citizen on Monday filed a contempt petition against the federal government functionaries in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) over non-implementation of its order, under which, the decision of placing five regulatory authorities under relevant ministries had been set aside.
Muhammad Nawaz, a worker of the Pakistan Justice and Democratic Party, through his counsel Saliheen Moghal, approached the court seeking contempt proceedings against Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Fawad Hasan Fawad and the federation through Joint Secretary of Cabinet Division Dr Iram Anjum Khan for not implementing a previous decision of the IHC.
The IHC had set aside the federal government’s decision to place five key public-oriented regulatory authorities under the very ministries against whom they were supposed to protect the consumers.
Justice Athar Minallah of the IHC had annulled the impugned notification of the government placing Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra), National Electric Power Regulatory Authority, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, the Frequency Allocation Board and Public Procurement Regulatory Authority under the relevant ministries.
The petitioner said he has come to know that the respondents have re-issued the notification with a slight change in the wording with the same subject – control and supervision of the independent regulatory bodies – without any decision, approval or consent of the Council of Common Interests (CCI).
“No decision or approval of the CCI has been obtained by the respondents as is required under the Constitution and the order of this court,” the counsel stated in the petition.
He prayed the court to initiate proceedings against the respondents; and operation and effect of ‘contemptuous notification’ issued on June 6 may be suspended till the conclusion of the contempt proceedings and punishment of the ‘delinquent’.
He also requested the court to issue a compliance order of its earlier judgment in its true letter and spirit.
Justice Minallah had ordered that the federal government shall be at liberty to place the matter before the CCI for its decision, pursuant to powers conferred under Article 154 of the Constitution.
The constitutional provision, Justice Minallah had noted, unambiguously provides that formulation and regulation of policies in relation to matters in Part II of the Federal Legislative List exclusively falls within the ambit of powers and jurisdiction of the council.
Likewise, he stated, the CCI has been expressly mandated to exercise supervision and control over the regulatory authorities established under the federal laws.
Justice Minallah ruled that prior to issuance of the notification the arrangement, under which the federal government was handling the affairs of the regulatory authorities through the Cabinet Division, shall continue till varied, altered or amended pursuant to a decision by the CCI.
Previously, the petitioner had maintained that with the notification and having the direct control of Ogra, the federal government allowed CNG station retailers to fix their own prices rather than being fixed by a regulatory body.
The petitioner had apprehended that ordinary people would be left at the mercy of big business concerns and multinational companies to make an undue and unjustified profit without being accountable to the regulatory authorities.
He added that the same would happen in the case of electricity, telephone and gas prices for domestic use.
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