LAHORE: Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed of the Lahore High Court (LHC) ruled that the Lahore Electric Supply Company (Lesco) had no authority to direct cinemas to shut down their businesses at 8 pm.
The LHC was hearing a writ petition filed by Ibrarul Haq, the assistant manager of Gulistan Cinema. The petitioner submitted that the executive engineer of Lesco had issued a notification on April 29 asking owners to close cinemas by 8 pm. He stated that the notification exceeded the legal authority of the company. Ibrarul Haq’s lead counsel Ali Sabtain Fazli argued that the notification had further directed executive engineers (XENs) and sub division officers (SDOs) to monitor cinemas and ensure that they closed by the said time.
The officers were warned of strict action for failing to implement the notification. Javed Hashmi the director operations at Lesco appeared before the court on the instructions of the Pakistan Electricity Power Company (Pepco) and explained that the notification was passed as cinemas are a commercial entity. He also admitted that the company was not legally entitled to shut down cinemas. Justice Sheikh Azmat disposed of the petition after the official admitted that his seniors had acted beyond their authority when issuing the notification.
The court ruled that only the Punjab government had the vested authority to regulate or direct cinemas. Ali Fazli stated that cinema owners would screen their movies on generators after 8 pm now that Lesco authorities did not have the authority to intervene or disconnect their power supplies. He admitted that the Punjab government could shut down cinemas but he added that he would challenge any such order.
Ibrarul Haq maintained that he would continue to run his business on a generator as that was the peak time for ticket sales. He added that he had asked the court to set aside the notification issued by Lesco authorities and rule that it had no legal bearing.
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