The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday gave one day to stakeholders in the Reko Diq case to resolve the issue around the renewal of a foreign firm’s mining licence and inform the court of the outcome.
Chief Justice (CJ) Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, presiding over a three-member bench, observed that renewal of Tethyan Copper Company’s (TCC) mining licence is the prerogative of the Balochistan government since it is an administrative issue.
Advocate Tariq Asad contended that the Balochistan cabinet had decided not to renew the company’s licence. The CJ asked the Balochistan government’s counsel Ahmer Bilal Sufi to inform the court about the government’s stance and adjourned hearing till Wednesday.
Sufi argued that he expected a verdict from the bench. Justice Sair Ali remarked that it is the Balochistan government’s prerogative and the court cannot decide.
Asad requested the bench for permission to file another petition to challenge Balochistan’s mining rules. The court referred him to the Balochistan High Court where a similar petition has been filed by Maulvi Abdul Haq.
In a previous hearing, former Balochistan advocate-general Salahuddin Mengal had informed the court that the TCC had not deposited the project fee nor had it submitted a feasibility report while TCC’s counsel Fakhruddin G Ebrahim indicated that his client was ready for an out-of-court settlement.
Twenty-six senators had filed a petition requesting the court to direct the federal and provincial governments not to renew TCC’s agreement.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 25th, 2011.