Monday July 22, 2024

Reko Diq project: SC asks why govt wants to amend Mineral Act instead of Mineral Rules

By Our Correspondent
November 16, 2022

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday questioned whether the government could not make amendments to the Mineral Rules instead of the act.

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. During the hearing, Justice Yahya Afridi questioned why the government wanted to make amendments to the Mines and Mineral Act 1948 instead of making amendments to Mineral Rules.

If fundamental rights were affected by making amendments in the Mines and Mineral Act 1948, then the court will intervene”, Justice Yahya Afridi remarked. The court also questioned as to whether the federation and provinces will simultaneously utilize the one law. Additional Attorney General Aamir Rehman submitted that in the 1973 constitution, the 1948 Act was neither enlisted in the Federal List nor Provincial List. He further submitted that under the 1973 Constitution, some provisions of the Mines and Mineral Act 1948 were delegated to the federation and some to provinces.

Commencing his arguments, Salahuddin, counsel for Balochistan Government submitted that the Presidential Reference seeking the opinion of the apex court on the new Reko Diq project is maintainable for being a public interest matter adding that the President of Pakistan was competent to send the reference. He submitted that some observations were given that the questions put in the Presidential Reference were ambiguous and added that questions before the court don’t need to be sent on the right points. He submitted the court could also give its opinion on the questions, raised during arguments in the proceedings as well.

To support his stance, the counsel for the Balochistan government cited a judgment of the Indian Supreme Court wherein it had held that the court could also give its opinion on the questions, raised during the arguments. Chief Justice Umer Ata Bandial observed that the court will give its opinion only on the legal questions, raised in the Presidential Reference. Later, the court adjourned the hearing for today (Wednesday).