Appointment of NEPRA Authority


Maria Rafique

This op-ed revisits the appointment of Authority members under the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) (Second Amendment) Act, 2021 (the “Act of 2021”).
Section 3 of the Act of 2021 states, “As soon as may be, after the commencement of this Act (the Act of 2021) the Federal Government shall by notification in the official Gazette, establish an Authority….” The Authority consists of a Chairman and four specialized members (Tariff Finance, Technical, Law, and Development) to be appointed by the Federal Government by rotation in the order (provincial representation) mentioned for each member appointment.
There was no saving clause included in the Act of 2021 showing any intent of the legislature to allow the current NEPRA Authority to continue with their term of appointment. It might have been reconstituted, as the words “as soon as may be” imply under the Act of 2021.
In addition to the requirement of specialized members, the Act of 2021 states under Section 3 (5) that only the Chairman shall be eligible for re-appointment. The word “member” is omitted under the Act. We will discuss this eligibility of the Chairman later, but, first, let us address the recent member reappointment.
Since the Authority was not reconstituted as per the Act of 2021, the expectation was that, as the existing Authority completes its term, the new Act of 2021 must be followed in its letter and spirit. However, through notification No. 1-2/2018-RAIII (NEPRA), a member from the Sindh province has been reappointed as a member (technical) following the provincial rotational order for another term of three years, referring to Section 3(2) of the Act of 2021. This violates the law, making the reappointment of a member unlawful.
Concerning the Chairman’s eligibility, let us first define the word “eligibility.” The word eligibility is defined as “the state of having the right to do or obtain something through satisfaction of the appropriate conditions.” Putting aside my differences with the incumbent Chairman, which I have sufficiently addressed in the letter to the Cabinet Secretary and the Prime Minister’s office, requesting to open an inquiry into misconduct against him under Section 4 of the NEPRA Act through the Federal Public Service Commission, the Federal Government may have to consider the following before granting any extension to the incumbent Chairman. The Federal Government must be satisfied with the performance reviews, especially the functions performed by the Authority under Section 7 of the NEPRA Act. We have seen the activities performed and appointments made by the incumbent Chairman outside Section 7, misusing his authority and organizational resources. All complaints filed against him are pending on the Prime Minister’s portal: the pending litigation challenging his initial appointment before the High Courts of the country, the pending issue of non-compliance to the audit reports, the extensions granted to employees who were involved in corrupt practices, and the third-party employee satisfaction survey are just a few requirements, which need to be “satisfied” before considering him eligible for reappointment.
NEPRA deserves a “leader,” a man of character and dignity, and, as the Act defines, “a person known for his integrity,” who leads the institution by performing his duties according to the Act.

The writer is a lawyer based in Islamabad. She has an LL.M. from Cornell Law School. She can be reached at