PESHAWAR: Vacating a stay order against the collection of fuel price adjustment in electricity bills from residents of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the Peshawar High Court on Thursday referred the matter to the National Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) for decision.

A bench consisting of Justice Mohammad Ibrahim Khan and Justice Shakil Ahmad disposed of 16 petitions mostly requesting the court to declare illegal the FPA’s imposition in electricity bills in the province.

The bench pronounced a short order observing that Nepra was the right forum to decide the matter and not it.

The petitions were filed by the Frontier Printers and Publishers Association, Jamaat-i-Islami leader Prof Mohammad Ibrahim, and several industrial units.

Vacates stay order against FPA collection in province

The high court had granted interim relief to the FPPA in Sept this year and suspended the collection, imposition and charging of the FPA to the extent of power consumers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Lawyers for some petitioners contended that the charging of FPA from the petitioners and other consumers in the province was illegal and without lawful authority.

They contended that the power so consumed by the consumers of KP was of hydroelectric generation and in this regard the province was self-sufficient, while surplus electricity was shared with other provinces.

The counsel argued that the FPA’s collection was subject to the generation of power through sources other than water.

They requested the court to direct the respondents, including the Peshawar Electric Supply Company, to return the amount collected on account of the FPA from the petitioners and other consumers of the province, from whom it was unlawfully recovered.

Additional attorney general Amir Javed and deputy attorney general Sanaullah appeared for the federal government and contended that the petitions were not maintainable as the high court had no jurisdiction to decide the matter.

He said the Nepra was a statutory body established under the Regulation of Generation, Transmission and Distribution of Electric Power Act, 1997, popularly known as the Nepra Act, to regulate electric power services in the country.

Mr Javed said the Nepra was exclusively mandated for the determination of tariff, rates and charges and other terms and conditions for supply of electric power services by the generation, transmission and distribution companies.

The AAG said all decisions/determinations were made by the Nepra in accordance with the relevant law in a transparent manner by providing equal opportunities of hearing to all stakeholders.

He referred to several judgements of superior courts, including the Peshawar High Court, in support of his contention.

He pointed out that in Feb 2022, the PHC had dispose of several identical petitions and referred the matter to the Nepra for adjudication.

Referring to the high court’s judgement, he said the court had observed that it neither had any expertise on the matter nor could it hold a probe.

He added that the court had also observed that the Nepra was the right forum for such issues under the Nepra Act’s Section 7(2)(g) and Section 3(1) and that it had also the authority to review its order.

He said since the petitioners didn’t approach the Nepra on the matter, it would be appropriate to refer petitions to it for decision after hearing.

Petitioner FPPA had said the respondents had sent a huge amount in the June electricity bills of August to power consumers on account of FPA, which was beyond the paying capacity of the members of the petitioner association as well as other consumers.

Published in Dawn, November 4th, 2022

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