Ogra given till May 29 to explain safety steps taken in vehicles fitted with CNG kits

Updated May 08, 2019

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Set of petitions about use of substandard CNG kits and cylinders in commercial vehicles and school vans heard at SHC.
Set of petitions about use of substandard CNG kits and cylinders in commercial vehicles and school vans heard at SHC.

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Tuesday asked the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) to file a final report about preventive and safety measures in the use of CNG kits in vehicles by May 29.

When a set of petitions about the use of substandard CNG kits and cylinders in commercial vehicles and school vans came up for hearing before a two-judge SHC bench headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar on Tuesday, the lawyer for Ogra filed a statement in compliance with an earlier order.

The lawyer for one of the petitioners produced a copy of the minutes of a meeting conducted by all the stakeholders in the light of an order issued on the last hearing.

The lawyers and representatives of Ogra, the Hydrocarbon Development Institute of Pakistan (HDIP), All Pakistan CNG Association (APCNGA) and the petitioners have confirmed that a meeting was convened and a detailed discussion was held to improve the condition viz-a-viz CNG cylinders in various commercial and school vans with safety measures.

The counsel for Ogra argued that some points remained untouched in the first meeting and sought one month to hold another meeting with all the stakeholders. The lawyers for the petitioner also endorsed the request of the lawyer representing Ogra.

The bench fixed the matter on May 29 and directed the Ogra lawyer to file final minutes of the meeting.

At the outset of the hearing, the bench was informed that the meeting of all the stakeholders was held on April 25 and proposed standard operating procedures (SOPs), adding that it contained long- and short-term measures to curb accidents in CNG kit-fitted vehicles and to ensure safety of the public.

It was also proposed in the meeting that the education departments of all the provinces direct the schools not to allow such vehicles which had no valid fitness certificate; HDIP and APCNGA must increase the number of cylinder testing labs, and Ogra should encourage all the CNG stations to develop workshops on the premises of the filling stations.

Advocates Muzammil Mumtaz, Tariq Mansoor and others had moved the SHC and contended that a rickshaw driver was forced to commit suicide as money was extorted from him at least thrice and alleged that it was a routine in Karachi that traffic police were engaged in demanding bribes from rickshaw drivers and motorbike riders on main roads, and on refusal they imposed undue fines on them.

The petitioners maintained that substandard CNG cylinders were being used in public transport as well as in school vans despite the directions of the court and no action was being taken against such vehicles. Impleading the home secretary, transport secretary, DIG traffic, Ogra and others as respondents, they asked the court to direct the respondents to take action against traffic police engaged in extorting bribes and to restrain public transport vehicles and school vans from using substandard CNG cylinders and overloading their vehicles.

SHC seeks ECP members’ addresses

The same bench on Tuesday directed the Chief Election Commissioner of Pakistan to communicate the court notices to two former members of the ECP or provide their residential addresses to the court so that notices could be directly issued to them.

The Aam Log Ittehad Party through its head, retired Justice Wajihuddin Ahmed, had moved the SHC and contended that the appointments of all the four members of the ECP were illegal.

About the service of the notices to two retired members, Shakeel Baloch and Abdul Ghaffar, from Balochistan and Sindh, the bench had directed at the last hearing the law officer of the ECP to inform the two retired members about the court notices.

However, on Tuesday the ECP lawyer placed on record a letter of a deputy director of the ECP which stated that after their retirement, the ECP had no connection with both the former members and notices may be issued on their residential addresses.

The petitioner argued that three of them, former judges of high courts, were appointed members of the ECP in violation of Article 207(2) of the Constitution as their appointments were made before the expiry of a mandatory period of two years after they ceased the office as judges of high courts.

While impleading the ECP and it members retired justices Shakeel Ahmad Baloch, Irshad Qaiser and Altaf Ibrahim Qureshi as well as retired bureaucrat Abdul Ghaffar as respondents, he maintained that the fourth member of the ECP was inducted when he was facing a corruption case and his name was also placed on the Exit Control List.

Published in Dawn, May 8th, 2019