KARACHI: The Supreme Court on Monday directed the provincial secretaries of local bodies, finance and energy to appear before it on Wednesday on a petition of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) against disconnection of its power supply over non-payment of electricity dues.

The KMC asked the SC to restrain K-Electric from disconnecting power supply to its offices over non-payment of dues after the Sindh High Court had dismissed an identical plea of the KMC.

When the matter came up for hearing before a two-judge bench comprising Justice Maqbool Baqar and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah at the Supreme Court’s Karachi Registry, the bench asked the counsel for the KMC why they were not paying the dues to the power utility.

KMC lawyer Sameer Ghazanfar said that they had been facing a shortage of funds and the amount being provided by the provincial government was spent on the salaries of staff, adding that even the salaries of the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital staff were paid after a delay of four months.

Justice Shah remarked that the local government had installed air conditioners at the washrooms, adding that if the KMC faced a shortage of funds then why it was spending beyond its limits.

The counsel for the KMC contended that it had been repeatedly requesting the provincial government for a special grant for the payment of the KE dues, but to no avail.

Justice Shah further said that the KMC had not been paying the electricity dues for years, adding that how the KE could provide electricity if the dues were not paid.

Justice Baqar said that they were going to ask the provincial government to pay the dues directly to the KE. However, the KMC’s lawyer argued that if the payments were made directly, the provincial authorities might deduct the same from KMC’s funds.

‘Rs580m dues’

The KE lawyer argued that the electricity dues of the KMC exceeded Rs580 million and requested the SC to issue directive for payment of the outstanding dues.

The bench directed the provincial secretaries of local bodies, finance and energy to appear before it on April 10 with the recommendations to resolve the issue.

Earlier, the KMC had approached the SHC after the KE had disconnected power supply to one of its parks for non-payment of dues. However, the high court had dismissed the plea of the KMC in January and asked it to pay the dues.

Thereafter, the KMC approached the SC as it said that the power utility also disconnected power supply to its head office and other offices for the non-payment of dues.

Published in Dawn, April 9th, 2019