ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court Tuesday appointed amici curie in the Presidential Reference seeking validation of the new Reko Diq Project agreement. A five-member larger bench headed by Chief Justice Umer Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsen, Justice Muneeb Akhtar, Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokel heard the reference.
The amici curie are Barrister Farogh Naseem, Salman Akram Raja and Zahid Ibrahim, advocate. The court also issued a notice to the Balochistan High Court Bar Association. During the hearing, Chief Justice Umer Ata Bandial observed that the court could not review the political and economic nature of questions in the Presidential Reference but only legal and constitutional questions.
The chief justice gave these observations after Additional Attorney General Chaudhry Aamir Rehman submitted that the agreement was made in view of the decisions given by the courts in the past. He said according to experts, the agreement was the best keeping in view the present situation.
The AAG contended that if the agreement was not made, then the government will have to pay liability of more than $9 billion dollars owed to Pakistan. Why the government wants to apply the laws of 1970 to such a huge investment of billions of rupees? Why is the government not making rules and regulations on a par with the international standards? the CJP asked the law officer.
The chief justice asked the additional attorney general whether the Balochistan government had enacted new laws for mining or not. The chief justice also asked the AAG to inform the court under what legal framework and policy, the agreement had been made.
The law officer submitted that the apex court in its judgment had held that the rules were relaxed in violation of law for an international company, which was not authorised. The chief justice asked the law officer whether the rules were the same or had been amended.
The law officer replied that the rules had been amended for the agreement and under the new law, the government could make amendments to the rules. The chief justice, however, observed that transparency must be ensured even after relaxing the rules.
The additional attorney general contended that Pakistan will have 50 percent share in the mineral exploration. Whatever the share may be but the law has to be abided by, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel observed. The AAG, however, submitted that nothing was being made in violation of the law. The court adjourned the hearing for today (Wednesday) at 1 pm.