Rs100bn Surcharge on Electricity Consumers Unconstitutional and Illegal - LHC
ISLAMABAD: The federal government has approached the Supreme Court, seeking suspension of the Lahore High Court’s May 29 verdict. The verdict declared surcharges worth over Rs 100 billion on electricity consumers as both “unconstitutional and illegal”.
The ministry of water and power has moved a petition under Article 185 (3), expressing apprehension that it will suffer irreparable loss if the judgment is not overturned forthwith. The SC office has fixed the government’s plea before the three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk for hearing on Monday.
On May 29, the Lahore High Court struck down Section 31(5) of the Regulation, Transmission and Distribution of Electric Power Act of 1997. Under this act electricity supply companies added these surcharges to the monthly bills of electricity consumers.
The federal government has submitted that laws relating to economic activities/utilities should be viewed with greater latitude than laws touching civil rights. The legislature should be allowed some play in the joints as it deals with complex problems that are not solved through any doctrinaire or strait jacket formula.
“In the utilities and economic regulation cases, there are good reasons for judicial self-restraint if not judicial deference to legislative judgment. The said principles, as enunciated by this honorable court, were not followed or kept into mind by the learned division bench of the Honourable Lahore High Court while passing the impugned judgment, which is liable to be set aside”
The petition says that the federal government is providing a huge subsidy to the people of Pakistan. This is in line with the mandate and policy framework approved by Council of Common Interests (CCI).
One of the essential components of the Power Policy is to safeguard the low end consumers from any price escalation and tariff rationalisation with an aim to minimise subsidy within industrial, commercial and bulk consumers.
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