Govt moves for early SC hearing on GIDC pleas

Updated 06 Sep 2019


Informed source tells Dawn an application on the matter is expected to be filed before the apex court on Friday. — Dawn/File
Informed source tells Dawn an application on the matter is expected to be filed before the apex court on Friday. — Dawn/File

ISLAMABAD: In line with directives of the Prime Minister Office, the attorney general’s office is busy collecting relevant data for moving an urgent application before the Supreme Court for an early hearing of pending petitions relating to the Gas Development Infrastructure Cess (GIDC) case.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Imran Khan while withdrawing the GIDC (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019 directed Attorney General Anwar Mansoor to move an application for urgent hearing in the Supreme Court so that the matter is decided at the earliest strictly in accordance with the law and the constitution.

An informed source told Dawn that the application was expected to be filed before the apex court on Friday.

The Supreme Court is seized with a number of petitions one of which was filed jointly by senior counsel Makhdoom Ali Khan on behalf of 499 CNG stations of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa challenging the May 31, 2017 order of the Peshawar High Court (PHC). The petition has also sought a restraining order from imposing or collecting GIDC on gas supplied to CNG stations.

The GIDC issue became controversial when the government promulgated a controversial ordinance last week that offered Rs210 billion financial amnesty to big businesses, including fertiliser, general industry, IPPs, power generation companies, K-Electric and CNG sector, etc.

A statement issued by the PM office had conceded that from January 2012 till December 2018, the total amount stuck in the GIDC litigation had risen to Rs417 billion.

The earlier GIDC act was approved by the National Assembly in December 2011 imposing cess on gas consumers, other than the domestic sector, to develop infrastructure for a number of projects, including the Iran-Pakistan Pipeline Project, Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) Pipeline Project, Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project and for price equalisation of imported alternative fuels, including LPG (liquefied petroleum gas).

Earlier in April 15, 2015, the apex court had rejected federal government’s petition seeking to review its Aug 22, 2014 verdict and clarify that collection of over Rs100 billion under GIDC Act was not liable to be refunded to industrial consumers of gas from whom it was recovered. The then GIDC law had legalised recovery of GIDC from non-domestic consumers mainly industries.

Later on the expiry of the GIDC ordinance the National Assembly and Senate passed the GIDC Act, 2015 and repealed the GIDC Act, 2011.

Last week the incumbent government issued another ordinance to offer writing off Rs210 billion to different industrial concerns.

The petitioners in the fresh round of litigation have contended before the apex court that the respondents should be restrained from taking any coercive action against CNG stations, including but not limited to disconnection of the supply of gas during the pendency of the petition.

They have made the secretary of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources, Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited (SNGPL) and Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) as respondents in the petition.

Published in Dawn, September 6th, 2019