PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Tuesday rejected a petition challenging the closure of CNG stations till January 31 by the administration in different districts.

A bench consisting of PHC Chief Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan and Justice Ijaz Anwar pronounced a short order of dismissing the petition jointly filed by Bluetech Filling Station Peshawar and Parang CNG Station Charsadda. The petitioners requested the court to declare as illegal the orders issued by deputy commissioners of the two districts under section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure on December 31, whereby ban was placed on functioning of stations from January 1 till January 31.

The petitioners requested the court to declare that the respondents including the deputy commissioners had no right and authority to order closure of filling stations or curtail supply of natural gas to them and the petitioners should be allowed to carry out their businesses smoothly.

Respondents in the petition were the provincial government through its chief secretary, SNGPL headquarters through its managing director, SNGPL provincial general manager, Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) through its director general and deputy commissioners of Peshawar and Charsadda districts.

SNGPL GM tells bench filling stations also closed in other provinces

A similar restriction has been in place in most districts of the province.

SNGPL general manager Taj Ali Khan appeared before the bench and stated that CNG stations were closed in other provinces also. He added that Sindh was the largest producer of natural gas in the country and even there the CNG stations were closed.

He stated that in order to manage the allocation and load management of natural gas, the federal government approved “Natural Gas Allocation and Management Policy, 2005” in which the domestic consumers were given top priority. He added that during the winter months, gas consumption by the domestic sector increased manifold.

The additional attorney general, Aamir Javed, appeared for the federal government and contended that provision of natural gas to consumers including the CNG stations was a policy matter.

He stated that the CNG stations were closed only for a month whereas 10 days already passed. He added that the CNG stations installed powerful compressors, which resulted in low gas supply to domestic consumers.

He said that Ogra discussed the issue with all the stakeholders following which it was decided to suspend functioning of CNG stations for a month across the country.

The petitioners’ counsel stated that the deputy commissioners of different districts issued almost identical orders last year suspending the functioning of the CNG stations for a month. He stated that the district administrations had no authority under Section 144 of the CrPC to close CNG stations.

He 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.

He said 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.

He argued that the high court, in a judgment delivered on December 7, 2010, had clearly pronounced that supply of natural gas to the areas producing it should be uninterrupted.

The petitioners also said that 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.

Published in Dawn, January 11th, 2023

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