PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court has ordered the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) to charge residents of Regi Model Town (RMT) Peshawar the domestic gas tariff and not that of the regasified liquefied natural gas (RLNG).

A bench consisting of Justice Shakeel Ahmad and Justice Syed Arshad Ali accepted a petition jointly filed by 55 RMT residents over a longstanding dispute between them and the SNGPL on the levy of RLNG tariff on domestic consumers and not applying domestic tariff.

The petitioners had requested the court to direct the SNGPL to implement two orders of the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) issued on Dec 7, 2020, and Aug 17, 2021, respectively, wherein imposition of the RLNG rates on domestic consumers was declared illegal.

They had also sought orders for the SNGPL to restore general domestic tariff for them and refund or adjust the ‘excessive payments received on the pretext of RLNG tariff from the residents of RMT since Jan 2019’.

Accepts petition seeking imposition of domestic gas tariff

During the hearing, Justice Syed Arshad Ali observed that the Islamabad High Court had imposed the cost of Rs50,000 on the SNGPL for undue litigation and if the gas utility continued to act in the same manner, it would be fined Rs100,000.

The bench observed that the Ogra regulated those matters but unfortunately, the SNGPL didn’t implement its orders and delaying action on the matter.

The petitioners’ counsel, Ameenur Rehman Yousafzai, said the RMT was a major residential township launched by the Peshawar Development Authority in 1992.

He said the RMT had 28,000 residential plots compared with 22,000 of the Hayatabad Township.

The lawyer added that after the allotment of plots, the PDA deposited Rs1.25 billion to the SNGPL on the high court’s order in 2012-13 for the supply of natural gas to the residents.

He contended that the petitioners had applied to the SNGPL for gas connections to their residential premises and that after due process, they were issued demand notices.

Mr Yousafzai said the SNGPL had provided gas connections to the petitioners in 2018 and that gas meters were installed with the normal gas tariff being initially charged for the months of Nov and Dec 2018.

He contended that the SNGPL unilaterally changed the normal gas tariff to the RLNG in Jan 2019 bills to increase charges unprecedentedly prompting the petitioner to approach the company against it, but to no avail.

The counsel added that there followed prolonged litigation between petitioners and the SNGPL at the PHC, IHC and Ogra.

He said the Ogra allowed on Dec 7, 2020,an appeal of the petitioners and ruled that the application of RLNG tariff on the consumers of the RMT was not justified, so the SNGPL should charge the RMT resident normal domestic tariff.

The lawyer said the SNGPL, instead of implementing the order, filed a review petition with the Ogra but it dismissed on Aug 17, 2021, but the utility continued to charge the RLNG tariff.

He said instead of implementing the said two orders of Ogra, the SNGPL contacted the IHC challenging both those orders.

Mr Yousafzai said the IHC dismissed the SNGPL’s plea on March 21, 2022, and fined it Rs50,000.

He said the petitioners had approached the SNGPL time and again for implementing the Ogra’s orders but in vain, so they had to move the high court for relief.

Published in Dawn, October 5th, 2022

Opinion

Editorial

Disquiet on the western front
Updated 07 Dec, 2022

Disquiet on the western front

IT is very difficult for Pakistan to be delinked from Afghanistan, because of reasons of geography and history.
Fuel from Russia
07 Dec, 2022

Fuel from Russia

THE apparent headway made with Russia for the purchase of its crude oil, petrol and diesel at discounted prices is a...
More women SHOs
07 Dec, 2022

More women SHOs

IT is encouraging to see more employment avenues opening up for women in Pakistan, with an increasing number of...
Is there a plan?
Updated 06 Dec, 2022

Is there a plan?

The ball currently is in Imran's court, but it appears he is stumped as to what to do with it.
Riverfront concerns
06 Dec, 2022

Riverfront concerns

THE door-to-door drive being launched by a group of landowners to mobilise affected communities against what they...
Morality police out
06 Dec, 2022

Morality police out

FOR several months, Iran has been rocked by unprecedented protests, sparked by the death on Sept 16 of Mahsa Amini, ...