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Monday July 22, 2024

Reko Diq project: Balochistan govt, opposition agree to legislate, Supreme Court told

The federal government submitted before the SC that the government of Balochistan and opposition unanimously approved the resolution of legislating for the new Reko Diq project

By Our Correspondent
November 15, 2022
The Reko Diq site. The News/File
The Reko Diq site. The News/File

ISLAMABAD: The federal government on Monday submitted before the Supreme Court (SC) that the government of Balochistan and opposition unanimously approved the resolution of legislating for the new Reko Diq project.

A five-member larger bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Umer Ata Bandail and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsen, Justice Muneeb Akhtar, Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokel heard the presidential reference regarding the new Reko Diq project.

Additional Attorney General Aamir Rehman, while continuing his arguments, stated that country’s biggest investment is being made in the new project of Reko Diq and the agreement is being pursued in transparent manner.

He submitted that that the government of Balochistan and opposition unanimously approved the resolution of making legislation for the new Reko Diq project. However, he informed the court that the draft on Mineral Act 1948 is yet to be approve from the Balochistan Assembly.

He claimed that there is no possibility of corruption in the project adding that the agreement as well as talks were being made openly and in a transparent manner. Justice Muneeb Akhtar, however, asked the law officer to convince the court if the amendment made to the law is correct or not as it is not clear whether the 1948 Act is federal or provincial.

“If the 1948 Act is federal and if the province through amendment is going to exclude the subject of mineral and empowering itself to do so,” Justice Muneeb Akhtar asked the Additional Attorney General adding that laws are either federal or provincial.

The judge observed that under Article 31 of the 1962 constitution, it is for the federation to make legislation, adding clause 2 of the Article says that in the national interest legislation should be made.

Similarly, the judge observed that Article 268 of the 1973 Constitution talks about division that some laws are in the federal domain. In 2017 the KP government made its own law by repealing the 1948 Act.

Additional Attorney General submitted that after adoption of the 1973 constitution, law is the same but one goes to the centre and other to provinces. Chief Justice Umer Ata Bandial observed that Police Order 2002 is a provincial subject and if it is to be amended, the province will do so.

“You have to see the process when a federal law exists, how it could be referred to the provinces”, the CJP asked the law officer, adding that there is a conflict of provincial and federal subject when it comes to mineral development.

Additional Attorney General submitted that the government of Balochistan is going to make amendments to the 1948 Act pertaining to the provisions of the province. Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel asked the law officer whether the legislation for the Reko Diq agreement will also apply to other provinces or not.

When the provincial government is making such an efforts, the federal government should also have made amendments to the federal law, the judge asked the law officer, asking why the government wants to do it through court.

The law officer submitted that the government has to finalise the Reko Diq agreement by December 15. Meanwhile, the chief justice observed that they want to conclude this case at the earliest so that they could get time for giving their opinion, sought in the Presidential Reference. Later, the court adjourned the hearing until today (Tuesday) at 11:30am.