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LHC CJ suggests committee on petrol crisis

National

July 1, 2020

LAHORE: Lahore High Court Chief Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan on Tuesday suggested to the National Assembly speaker to constitute a committee of parliamentarians from the treasury and the opposition to hold a probe into the recent shortage of petrol in the country.

CJ Khan asked Attorney General Khalid Javed Khan to discuss the court’s suggestion with the speaker. He observed that the court wants the parliament to do this job on its own, otherwise, the law will take its course and no official, if found guilty, would be spared.

The chief justice directed the attorney general to assist the court on next hearing, if the speaker does not form a committee, whether a commission under the code of criminal procedure would be appropriate to hold investigation into the fuel crisis. The chief justice was hearing a petition seeking action against the authorities concerned for their alleged failure to control shortage of petrol.

At the outset of the hearing, the counsel of the petitioner sought court’s permission to withdraw the petition, saying that there was no more shortage of petrol in the country. However, the chief justice turned down the request. AGP Khan filed an application on behalf of Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Azam Khan for one-time exemption from personal appearance. The CJ expressed his dismay, saying that it seems that the principal secretary should be summoned through arrest warrants. The attorney general said the principal secretary could not appear due to meeting of federal cabinet.

Referring to the principal secretary, Chief Justice Khan observed: “It is heard that law comes out of his mouth when he speaks. If this is the case, let’s talk to him and see.”The chief justice noted that the secretary will not be given exemption if the attorney general does not appear before the court. He questioned the manner in which prices of petroleum products increased suddenly before the end of month.

“How much you benefited the oil marketing companies by increasing prices?” the chief justice asked the attorney general and also directed him to apprise the court on next hearing about the capacity of the companies.

Advocate Awais Khalid, the amicus curiae, stated that the ministry of petroleum and the Oil & Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) were responsible to regulate import and storage of petrol in view of the country’s demand. He said the ministry, Ogra, oil companies and people were real stakeholders in the matter.

The CJ directed Ogra’s Chairperson Uzma Adil to deposit Rs 100,000 as donation with the hospital of the Lahore High Bar Association. She was fined for not appearing before the court on last hearing. On Tuesday, she requested the court to convert the fine into donation, which the chief justice accepted. The hearing was adjourned till July 9.