‘Federation not fulfilling responsibility’: SC rages at failure to address Sindh load-shedding

13 Oct 2020

Email

Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed was heading a three-judge bench hearing a suo motu case regarding unannounced load-shedding in Sindh. — Photo courtesy Supreme Court website/File
Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed was heading a three-judge bench hearing a suo motu case regarding unannounced load-shedding in Sindh. — Photo courtesy Supreme Court website/File

Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed on Tuesday took authorities, in particular the federal government, to task for excessive power load-shedding in Sindh, observing that the "federation was not fulfilling its responsibility".

Justice Ahmed was heading a three-judge bench hearing a suo motu case regarding unannounced electricity load-shedding in the province.

Rejecting as unsatisfactory the reports presented by the federal government and the National Electric and Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) explaining the issue, the apex court asked for new reports at the next hearing scheduled for November.

"These reports don't give a clear picture," said the CJP, adding that neither the federal nor the provincial governments were doing anything to address the issue. "The federation is not fulfilling its responsibility," he remarked.

Justice Ahmed said people were being allowed to exploit state institutions. "The government does not have the capabilities. All institutions are taking advantage of the government's shortcomings," he said.

Irked at the situation, the CJP said all Nepra and Power Division employees should be fired. "There is no point of having such employees."

Regarding K-Electric, Justice Ahmed said the power utility had become the people's master after "hijacking" them, adding that the price for electricity in the metropolis had been increased once again.

During the hearing, the court noted that it had reservations about the power utility's investors. KE's chairman informed the court that investors with ties to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait had invested $400 million in the company.

"It seems that that is not the end of the story, there must be someone behind them. It seems as though eventually this company will have connections with Bombay [Mumbai]," the CJP remarked. "Perhaps the electricity in Karachi and Balochistan is controlled from Bombay," he said referring to news reports.

He also remarked that half of Karachi was without electricity at night. "Every day I get calls and messages saying load-shedding is happening three times a day."

The K-Electric lawyer contended that news reports about the company having shareholders in Bombay were incorrect. The CJP replied that corporate affairs were often tangled and someone else was usually reaping the benefits.

The top judge said the power utility was a defaulter and should be sent to jail. "Provision of electricity is a basic right," he noted, adding that a heavy fine could be imposed on the company.

To this, KE's lawyer responded by saying power supply had been affected during June and July due to a shortage of oil.