PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Friday issued notices to the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) and provincial government seeking their response to the orders of Peshawar and Charsadda administrations for the closure of CNG stations in the two districts until Jan 31.
Justice Sahibzada Asadullah of a single-member bench admitted to full hearing the joint petition of the Bluetech Filling Station Peshawar and Parang CNG Station Charsadda and fixed proceedings for Jan 10.
The petitioners requested the court to declare illegal the notifications issued by deputy commissioners of Peshawar and Charsadda on Dec 31, 2022, through which a “complete ban” was imposed on the functioning of CNG stations in the two districts from Jan 1 to Jan 31 under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
They also sought the suspension of action on the impugned notifications an interim relief until the disposal of the petition.
Petitioners insist DCs not authorised to place such restriction
The petitioners requested the court to declare that the respondents, including the deputy commissioners, have no right and authority to order closure of filling stations or curtail supply of natural gas to them and that the petitioners should be allowed to carry out their businesses smoothly.
Respondents in the petition are the provincial government through its chief secretary, SNGPL headquarters through its managing director, SNGPL KP’s general manager, Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) through its director general, and deputy commissioners of Peshawar and Charsadda districts.
A similar restriction has been in place in most districts of the province.
Advocates Abdul Rahim Khan Jadoon and Bilal Khan Tangi appeared for the petitioners and contended that the deputy commissioners of different districts had issued almost identical orders last year declaring that the district administrations had no authority under Section 144 of the CrPC to close CNG stations.
They contended that Article 158 of the Constitution provided that the province with a well head of natural gas should have precedence over other parts of the country in meeting the requirements from that well head.
The petitioners contended that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was self-sufficient in exploration of natural gas, which was much more than its daily requirement, but even then, the government resorted to excessive gas suspension followed by orders for the closure of CNG stations.
They argued that the high court, in a judgement delivered on Dec 7, 2010, had clearly pronounced that supply of natural gas to the areas producing it should be uninterrupted.
The petitioners also said the high court had directed the SNGPL to adhere to the letter and spirit of Article 158 of the Constitution while dealing with the petitioners and all other stakeholders in the province vis-à-vis the supply of gas.
They said according to Ogra reports released in 2017 and 2019-20, KP had 12 per cent share in the national gas production, while it consumed only nine per cent of the gas suggesting that natural gas produced by it was supplied to other provinces.
The petitioners said the provinces except Punjab were self-sufficient when it came to production of natural gas.
Yasir Saleem and Asad Jan, lawyers for the SNGPL, along with some officials of the gas utility and requested the bench to allow them sometime as the SNGPL’s general manager wanted to personally appear and place submissions before the court.
The bench decided to hear all relevant parties on the next hearing before issuing an appropriate order.
Published in Dawn, january 7th, 2023