The Lahore High Court chief justice observed on Friday that the federal government had miserably failed to fulfill its constitutional obligation regarding elimination of menace of load-shedding.
The people at realm of affairs were enjoying deep slumber instead of lessening people’s miseries. The NEPRA had evolved no mechanism in controlling or eliminating electricity theft and line losses.
The chief justice was hearing a petition against electricity loadshedding during Sehr, Iftar and Taraveeh timings.
Judicial Activism Panel chairman Advocate Azhar Siddique had filed the petition.
The court directed the authorities and departments concerned to take steps for eradication of loadshedding and equitable distribution to all and sundry. The court also issued orders to abolish exemption being given to certain housing societies and treat them equally.
During the course of hearing, the CJ remarked it was the paramount obligation of the state under article 9 of the Constitution to provide basic necessities of life to people and the electricity was one of important elements of the life.
The court allowed a plea to make distribution companies as necessary parties and sought replies from them.
The CJ remarked that people were facing 18-hour loadshedding in cities whereas the situation was even worst in the rural areas where people hardly got any electricity.
Judicial Activism Panel chairman Advocate Azhar Siddique filed the petition and submitted that the province was being subjected to discrimination and given less electricity share. In other provinces, electricity theft was at large scale and bill recovery at low, yet Punjab was being victimized in electricity load management plan.
He pointed out that the power production was being effected due to non recovery of bills from other provinces.
He said all government hospitals were exempted from loadshedding but, during the last month, three patients had died due to loadshedding at the hospitals. He said Bahria Town housing society in Lahore was also exempted from loadshedding in violation of Articles 9 and 25 of the Constitution. When asked by the court, counsel of Wapda sought time to file reply to this effect.
The petitioner pointed out that, in a case about Neelum Jehlum Project pending before the high court, the government had taken a plea that the no work was being done on the this project. But on the other hand more than Rs26 billion had been collected from public through surcharge in electricity bills, he added.
The CJ adjourned further hearing till September 12.
In this case, the court had already directed the federal government and the Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco) to carry out equitable electricity loadshedding across the country. Advocate Siddique had presented a published statement of Public Accounts Committee chairman and MNA Nadeem Afzal Chan against unfair and unscheduled loadshedding. The lawyer quoted Chan to have threatened that he would tender resignation if loadshedding in his political constituency did not end like the constituencies of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, minister of water and power Ahmad Mukhtar and other ministers. The lawyer said that the statement of the MNA Chan was enough to establish the discrimination against Punjab.
The petitioner said that, despite an announcement made by the minister of water and power, citizens of Punjab were facing severe loadshedding not only during Sehr and Iftar timings but all the day. He said the action was against the principles of promissory and a fraud with the citizens of Punjab.
He argued that failure of electricity supply in Holy Ramzan was violating the fundamental rights as envisaged in the Constitution of Pakistan, especially under Article 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 19-A, 23, 24 and 25 of the Constitution.
The petitioner prayed that the federal government, Wapda, Pepco and distribution companies in Punjab should be restrained from observing loadshedding or load management during the Sehr and Iftar and prayer timings.