Regulatory Bodies Notification Suspended

Regulatory Bodies Notification Suspended

The Lahore High Court (LHC) has suspended a notification by the federal government transferring administrative control of five regulatory bodies to their respective ministries.

At a hearing on the matter, LHC Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah observed that the Prime Minister should have sought approval from the Council of Common Interests (CCI) before issuing the notification.

The government had issued the notification on December 19, placing the control of the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA), Oil and Gas Regu­latory Authority (OGRA), Pakistan Telecommu­nica­tion Authority (PTA), Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) and Frequency Allocation Board (FAB) under respective ministries.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Secretary General Jahangir Tareen and a citizen, Ali Irfan, had filed identical petitions in this regard.

Advocate Sheraz Zaka, the lead counsel for the petitioners, argued that under the law it was mandatory for the government to seek approval from the CCI before transferring the control of autonomous regulatory authorities to respective ministries.

He said that in many judgments the Supreme Court had declared approval from the CCI a mandatory provision for this purpose.

Advocate Zaka pointed out that on one hand the government was involved in the production and transmission of electricity, and on the other, it wanted to assume the role of a regulator.

Similarly, he said, placing the PTA and the FAB under the control of the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecom, the PPRA under Ministry of Finance and OGRA under Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources, was a case involving conflict of interest. The lawyer requested the court to set aside the notification.

A Deputy Attorney General argued that the approval of CCI was not necessary as the cabinet had approved the measure.

In his remarks, Chief Justice Shah said that the rule of law was indispensable as the Prime Minister should have sought approval of the CCI before issuing the notification. He suspended the notification and sought appearance of the Attorney General of Pakistan at the next hearing.


Previously published in DAWN and republished here with permission.