ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan may face another contempt of court case for commenting on the “axle load policy” in sharp contrast to an order passed by the Islamabad High Court (IHC).
Dr Awan and federal Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan are already facing contempt proceedings in the IHC in connection with their apparent contemptuous remarks related to ailing former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s case and the IHC chief justice has reserved the decision after they tendered unconditional apologies.
The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government had a day before the start of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl’s (JUI-F) Azadi march deferred implementation on the National Highway Safety Ordinance, 2000, that prescribed load for freight vehicles.
The ordinance came into effect in 2000, but due to strong lobbying from transporters its implementation was delayed many times on one pretext or another. The incumbent government decided to strictly implement the axel load regime.
A number of trade and industry bodies have asked the government to stop implementation of the axle load regime that would cause up to 100 per cent increase in freight costs.
The case related to axle load policy was pending before the IHC as a private transport company M/s Enterprises Private Limited through its counsel Arif Chaudhry had filed a petition in the court seeking implementation of the law.
The government time and again has deferred the implementation of the said policy. However, on July 5 this year, the IHC suspended the notification of the Ministry of Communications dated June 6 through which the implementation of the axle load regime was put on hold for a period of 90 days.
Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb of the IHC had in a subsequent hearing on Sept 19 observed that the ordinance of the axle load regime “was enacted in the public interest and it is the primary obligation of the Ministry of Communications to ensure that every provision of the said ordinance is implemented in letter and spirit”.
On Oct 15, the court issued a directive that the policy be implemented across the board without any discrimination.
The petition seeking contempt proceedings against Dr Awan said that “quite contrary to the clear directions and orders…Ms Firdous Ashiq Awan tweeted on October 26… upon instructions of PM Imran Khan to facilitate local traders, FWO has deferred Axle load implementation on M9 Motorway for one year. This decision has been taken on request of traders community”.
Justice Aurangzeb would take up this contempt petition along with the main petition seeking implementation of the axle load regime next week.
Published in Dawn, November 16th, 2019