Sunday June 04, 2023

New Reko Diq Project: SC questions Balochistan’s power to amend federal law

By Our Correspondent
November 18, 2022

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday questioned the authority of the Balochistan government for making amendments to the federal Mines and Mineral Act.

A five-member apex court 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 Presidential Reference on the new Reko Diq project.

Justice Muneeb Akhtar questioned as to how the provincial government could amend the federal Mines and Mineral Act.

The judge observed that the Federation exercises its legislative power over the provincial machinery and legislation but the provinces could not, adding the federal government wanted the court to interpret the Constitution.

Salahuddin Ahmed, counsel for the Balochistan government, concluded his arguments, stating that he would adopt the additional attorney general’s arguments. He, however, maintained the Balochistan Assembly could legislate for the Reko Diq project.

Justice Muneeb Akhtar observed that other provinces also make independent legislation for minerals as done by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government. Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel observed that the Balochistan government should make its own law regarding minerals that it could do in a week. “What more and clear opinion the court could give,” Justice Mandokhel remarked.

Meanwhile, former federal law minister and the court’s amicus curie Barrister Farogh Naseem submitted that the court could give its opinion that the Provincial Assembly may legislate for the Reko Diq project, and if the province does that, the problem could be resolved.

Meanwhile, the court adjourned the hearing till November 21.

President Dr Arif Alvi, on the prime minister’s advice, had filed a reference in the apex court under Article 186 of the Constitution.