Reko Diq case more important than 18th Amendment, NRO: CJ Iftikhar
07 April, 2011
ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on Wednesday said the Reko Diq Gold and Copper Mines lease case was more important than the 18th Amendment and the National Reconciliation Ordinance and the court wanted to decide it as soon as possible.
His remarks came during the hearing of the case by a three-member bench of the Supreme Court comprising besides the chief justice, Justice Muhammad Sair Ali and Justice Ghulam Rabbani.
Khalid Anwar, advocate, said that the BHP played a gamble by investing billions of dollars under this contract. It was not willing to invest more money in the project and hence sought relaxation in rules to go into a joint venture and introduce some new companies in this regard.
Earlier, Fakhruddin G Ibrahim, representing the Tethyan Copper Company (TCC), a Canadian and Chilean consortium of Barrick Gold and Antofagasta Minerals, apprised the court that they were ready for an out-of-court settlement, requesting adjournment of the case.
On this, the chief justice remarked how would the court decide the case at the earliest if it allowed adjournments. Advocate General Balochistan Amanullah Kanzani submitted that if the decision of the Balochistan High Court was set aside, it would be beneficial for the foreign company but would prove to be a disaster for the provincial government. He submitted that the company had neither submitted a feasibility report nor had paid any fee.
Justice Sair Ali observed that if the government did not receive any fee, it was the fault of the provincial government. The chief justice observed that minerals were the property of the province and only an elected government had the right to make any contract regarding these resources. He further observed that the provincial government did not approach the court to settle this issue and asked Khalid Anwar to conclude his arguments by 1 pm today (Thursday).
Khalid Anwar, however, requested the court not to give him any time frame but assured the court that he would conclude his arguments qucikly. He submitted that all such contracts were made in the name of governor or the president and advocate general was framing verbal objections, which had no legal standing. He submitted that when the finance and industries departments had no objection to the contract, why such objections were being raised, adding they had no justification. He further stated that for the mining lease, exploration and prospecting licences are essential. The case was adjourned for the day and Khalid Anwar will resume his arguments today.