Petition in PHC challenges transfer on admin control of five regulatory bodies


PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court (PHC) was moved on Tuesday against the notification issued on the directives of the Prime Minister for transfer of administrative control of the country’s five regulatory authorities to the respective ministries.
Haji Lal Muhammad, a businessman who is organizer of Pakistan Justice and Democratic Party, Peshawar district, challenged the federal government decision to transfer the administrative control of the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA), National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA), Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), Frequency Allocation Board and Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) to the respective ministries.
The federal government notification allowing the Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) retailers to fix sale prices was also challenged.Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, secretaries of the ministries of Petroleum and Natural Resources Division, Water and Power, Information Technology and Telecom Division, Finance Division, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government through the chief secretary, All Pakistan CNG Association and the five regulatory authorities were made parties to the petition. The writ petition was filed through lawyer Noor Alam Khan.
The petitioner claimed the principal secretary to the prime minister through a notification issued on December 19 last year on the orders of the premier transferred the administrative control of the country’s five autonomous and independent regulatory bodies to the ministries that were supposed under the law to watch, monitor and regulate the activities and functions of the regulatory bodies.
It was stated that the regulatory bodies were established to promote fair competition and investment in respective fields and protect the public interest and rights of the consumers.The petition said these bodies were meant to be autonomous and free from political influence and unbridled bureaucratic and direct government control.
“Pursuant to Article 153 of the Constitution the Council of Common Interests (CCI) was established and Article 154(1) as amended provided that the Council shall formulate and regulate policies in relation to matters in Part-II of the Federal Legislative list and shall exercise supervision and control over related institutions,” the petition stated.
It added that under Part-II of the Federal Legislative list enumerated in the Fourth Schedule of the Constitution, entries 2, 3 and 4 related to gas, petroleum and electricity were matters exclusively to be controlled and regulated by the Council of Common Interests.
It pointed out that entry 6 left no doubt relating to the control and supervision of the aforementioned regulatory bodies, wherein it is stipulated that all regulatory authorities established under the federal law shall be in the control and domain of the CCI in relation to formulation of the polices and exercise of control and supervision thereof.
The petition said the Cabinet Division notification purporting to give the statutory regulatory bodies under the control and supervision of the ministries was without lawful authority. It was pointed out that transferring administrative control of the regulatory bodies to respective ministries was also in violation of the Supreme Court’s decision in 2013 which held that the primary responsibility for determining the sale price of CNG for consumers rested with OGRA.
It said the notification has created a great deal of unrest and anxiety in different sections of the society including politicians and business community. It said that due to de-regulation the CNG station owners in Sindh and Punjab increased prices by almost Rs 4 per kg.
The petition prayed the court to declare the notifications regarding transfer of administrative control of the regulatory bodies and allowing the CNG station owners and retailers to fix the sale prices as unlawful and violation of the constitution.