SC Suspends LHC's Verdict Enforcing Rs100bn Surcharge on Consumers
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court while accepting the federal government’s plea on Monday suspended Lahore High Court’s May 29 verdict declaring surcharges worth over Rs100 billion on electricity consumers as both ‘unconstitutional and illegal.’
A three-judge bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk on Monday took up the Ministry of Water and Power’s plea and suspended the LHC order. The Ministry of Water and Power had moved a petition under Article 185 (3), expressing apprehension that it will suffer irreparable loss if the judgment is not overturned.
The bench also issued notices to all the respondents and adjourned the hearing for an indefinite period.
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 surcharges to the monthly bills of electricity consumers.
Attorney General for Pakistan Salman Aslam Butt on behalf of federal government submitted that laws relating to economic activities and utilities should be viewed with greater latitude than laws touching civil rights.
“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 honourable court, were not followed or kept into mind by the learned division bench of the Lahore High Court while passing the impugned judgment, which is liable to be set aside” the petition stated.
The petition further said 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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