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September 9, 2010

Power tariff raise case


September 9, 2010

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government Wednesday told the Peshawar High Court (PHC) that it had filed an application for withdrawal of its petition against power tariff raise after reaching an agreement with the federal government.
The provincial government’s counsel, Shumail Butt, informed a division bench of the PHC consisting Chief Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan and Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel that the federal government agreed that the tariff enhanced on March 1, 2008 would not be imposed on consumers from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
From now onward, he said, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa power consumers would pay the bills in line with the tariff in other provinces of the country. The court adjourned the case for 15th the instant.
Qazi Muhammad Anwar and Qazi Jameel represented Nepra and Pesco, respectively, while Muhammad Iqbal Mohmand appeared for the federal government. The provincial government had challenged the jurisdiction of the Nepra to unilaterally fix electricity rates as well as its notification of June 11, 2009 about retrospective application of power tariff.
The provincial government took the plea that Article 157(2-d) of the Constitution provided that the provincial government might determine the tariff for distribution of electricity within the province.
It added that Section 7(4) of the Nepra Act also endorsed the aforesaid constitutional and legal position. However, the petitioner added, under Section 7(3-A) of the Nepra Act, the authority had been given the power to determine tariffs, rates, charges and other terms and conditions for supply of electric power services by the generation, transmission and distribution companies.
“While disregarding the solemn obligation to protect consumers as well, the electricity distribution tariff is one-sidedly designed by Nepra in a manner to enable the Electricity Distribution Companies to recover their power purchase prices,” it said.
The NWFP government stated that on January 31, 2008,

the Nepra approved the enhancement of electricity tariff, which was notified in the official gazette on March 01, 2008, compounding the problems faced by poverty-stricken Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The provincial government said despite that the Pesco filed a petition before Nepra for further enhancement of consumer-end tariff and rates for security deposits with effect from July 1, 2008.
The petitioner said the matter of notification on determination had already been stayed by the IHC. However, the IHC was done away with in the wake of Supreme Court’s verdict on PCO judges and the cases were transferred to the Rawalpindi Circuit Bench of the Lahore High Court.
The LHC disposed of the petition on November 19, 2009 allowing the petitioner to approach competent court to challenge the final determination with rights to agitate the question of jurisdiction of Nepra and retrospective applicability, which led the petitioner to move the PHC against both the matters. The PHC had suspended the notification of the Nepra wherein the authority unilaterally increased power tariff with retrospective effect.

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