SC, IHC for relief to petrol, electricity consumers; summons MDs
25 October, 2012
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has summoned Managing Directors (MDs) of Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) and Sui Southern Gas Pipelines Limited (SSGPL) in the case pertaining to gas and petroleum prices.
A two-member bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and Justice Jawad S. Khawaja heard the case pertaining to gas and petroleum prices on Wednesday.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry has said that the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) was responsible for a loss of 83 billion rupees to the national exchequer.
The Chief Justice said that OGRA was not protecting the interests of the consumers rather it was safeguarding interests of the license holding companies.
The Chief Justice remarked, "If OGRA was not performing its duties, it would be better to shut it down."
Addressing Chairman OGRA, the Chief Justice said that the OGRA is a regulatory authority and it has to use its powers.
Adding to that, he said that if the interests of the consumers were not taken into consideration, the court would take strict action.
Secretary Petroleum Waqar Masood told the apex court that in light of the country's petroleum policy, petroleum prices were linked to the price of the US dollar.
The Chief Justice moreover inquired "under which law the weekly petroleum price adjustment mechanism was introduced".
The Chairman OGRA Saeed Ahmed Khan told the court that the OGRA was not in favour of the mechanism for adjusting petroleum prices on weekly basis.
Chief Justice Iftikhar said "then OGRA should not issue the weekly notification of prices."
The Supreme Court directed the Chairman OGRA to submit by Oct 25 detailed documents containing detail of hike in petroleum and gas prices and its reasoning that justify the hike in petroleum and gas prices.
Secretary petroleum said compared to the previous governments, the present government was more considerate of the poor and the underprivileged. The chief justice said "if that is the case then why were petroleum prices increased every week?"
Justice Jawad S. Khawaja remarked that OGRA's role and authority was well-defined but the organization was operating as if it was working under the government. He further said that the government could not do anything without OGRA's approval.
The court directed OGRA officials to submit details of hike in petroleum prices and reasons behind it, observing that OGRA is not entitled to raise fuel rates without hearing consumers' point of view.
"All of them are involved in looting and plundering the consumers," Justice Khawaja said.
The Chairman OGRA said according to the Section 7, OGRA had the mandate to determine petroleum prices only twice a year.
The chief justice inquired how cost auditing could be made possible under the weekly price adjustment mechanism.
Meanwhile, in another case Islamabad High Court has also ordered National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) to return the amount to the consumers taken from them on account of fuel adjustment charges.
Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of IHC said that distribution companies (DISCOs) can not take more charges and the amount taken from all the industrial and domestic consumers should be returned to them in the bills of next months.
The court ordered NEPRA to withdraw fuel adjustment charges on permanent basis.