KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Tuesday issued notices to the federal, provincial government and local government authorities on another petition filed by the Jamaat-i-Islami challenging recovery of the controversial Municipal Utility Charges and Taxes (MUCT) by the K-Electric through electricity bills on behalf of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation.

A two-judge bench comprising Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi and Justice Arshad Hussain Khan, also directed the deputy attorney general and Sindh advocate general to file comments on behalf of the respondents before the next date and fixed the petition on Oct 10 when some identical petitions are already fixed for hearing.

On Monday, the same bench while hearing an identical petition filed in April had restrained the power utility from recovering the MUCT till Oct 10.

Last week, JI Karachi chief Hafiz Naeemur Rehman and others had filed the present petition citing the ministry of energy (power division), Sindh chief secretary, local government secretary, city administrator and KE as respondents.

When the matter came up for hearing on Tuesday, their counsel, Usman Farooq, submitted that the present petition was filed in relation to the controversy regarding the decision of the KE to recover the MUCT from the residents through electricity bills on behalf of the KMC.

He mentioned that the court had already passed an interim stay order on an identical petition on Sept 26, restraining the KE from collecting the amount of the MUCT on behalf of the KMC through their electricity bills from the consumers.

After initial hearing, the bench issued notices to the respondents as well as the DAG and AG Sindh, and directed the office to fix the present petition along with others involving identical controversy. It also directed the respondents to file their respective para-wise comments/reply to the present petition before Oct 10.

In the petition, it was stated that the MUCT was imposed in the light of a resolution, passed by the Karachi administrator, which was illegal and without following the provision of law.

The petitioners stated that the power utility was “known for its poor performance, faulty and overbilling and extortion of money in different names and accounts and now MUCT has also been outsourced to the KE”.

They maintained that KE was a private company and had a limited licence for generation, transmission and distribution of power only and the agreement between ministry of energy and KE had nothing about collection of different charges and it could not be indulged in collection of taxes on behalf of the KMC.

The petitioners said after approval of the Sindh chief minister, the chief secretary had issued a notification on Jan 21, allowing provincial energy department and KMC to engage KE for collection of MUCT under the Sindh Local Government Act (SLGA), 2013, and in furtherance of this notification, the provincial government issued another notification on April 12 in this regard.

Published in Dawn, September 28th, 2022

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