Thursday December 08, 2022

JI asks SHC to cancel KE’s licence for ‘overburdening consumers in name of FAC’

October 04, 2022

The purchase of electricity through external resources was much cheaper than the electricity generated by the K-Electric itself, and consumers were overburdened in the name of fuel adjustment charges (FAC), the Jamaat-e-Islami told Sindh High Court on Monday,

Filing a rejoinder to objections to its petition against the “illegal” loadshedding, lack of power generation and collection of different taxes by the KE from its consumers through the electricity bills, the JI submitted that the National Electricity Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) failed to consider necessary components such as the fuel stock position, and plant-wise fuel consumption of the KE for the determination of fuel adjustment charges, and passed an unlawful decision.

The party said Nepra’s FAC decision was unlawful as it was passed without considering the necessary components for the determination of these charges; therefore, payments received by the KE should be refunded to its consumers in the coming bills.

The JI counsel submitted that burdening the consumers for the fuel consumed for pervious months was in fact taxing them with retrospective effect, and if consumers had known that the KE was consuming costly fuel which would result in burdening them, they might have used less electricity.

The counsel submitted that no verified documents pertaining to the purchase of furnace oil, gas and other fuels had been provided in the Nepra decision with regard to FAC though it was necessary for the determination of those charges.

He said the purchase of electricity through external resources was much cheaper than the electricity generated by the KE itself, but it could not be done by the KE due to its incapability and low capacity, and consumers were therefore overburdened in name of fuel adjustment charges.

The petitioner’s counsel requested that the SHC cancel licence as it had overburdened the electricity consumers and avoided to invest in its system for generation, transmission and distribution of power.

A counsel for the power utility had earlier raised preliminary objections to the application for a restraining order with regard to the fuel adjustment charges and submitted that Nepra had issued separate notices through an advertisement for a public hearing for monthly FAC of April, May and June 2022. The counsel had said that the petitioners did not participate in any of the hearings nor did they challenge the determination of these charges before the Nepra appellate tribunal.

The KE’s counsel had requested the high court to dismiss the application as not maintainable. Karachi JI chief Hafiz Naeemur Rehman and others had maintained in the petition that the KE had failed to discharge its duty of providing uninterrupted electricity to the city’s residents. They argued the right to have power was an essential component of the right to life enshrined in the constitution.

They had pointed out the lack of an independent mechanism to check if the electricity meters installed by the KE provided a correct reading because only the power utility’s staff read those meters.

They had also pointed out that the Supreme Court and high court had passed directions to the KE to ensure uninterrupted power supply to the residents, but despite their orders, the power company ‘arbitrarily’ conducted load-shedding just for ‘financial gains’.

The petitioners had also stated that the KE had been charging almost double the power charges by including different taxes. They had argued that the KE had failed to perform and fulfil its obligations under its agreement with the government, and stated that the federal government should cancel the KE’s licence and take over the power utility.

The petitioners requested the SHC to conduct a forensic audit of the KE’s finances and restrain it from carrying out unannounced load-shedding in the city, especially during night hours. They also sought an injunction against overbilling in the name of fuel adjustment charges, and tax collection through power bills in the name of sales tax, general sales tax and TV licence fees.