If Islamabad doesn't submit a reply, case will proceed without it: SHC

Published: May 31, 2019
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Sindh High Court. PHOTO: EXPRESS

Sindh High Court. PHOTO: EXPRESS

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) rejected on Thursday the request of a government lawyer to adjourn the hearing of pleas filed against the increase in the prices of petroleum products.

A two-member bench comprising Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Agha Faisal heard the pleas. The court expressed annoyance over the non-submission of reply by the ministry of petroleum.

Justice Mazhar remarked that seeking a reply from Islamabad had become a great problem for the court. “We had been asking for the reply on a plea but it wasn’t submitted until arrest warrants of a secretary were issued,” he said.

While addressing the government lawyer, the court inquired whether the secretary of the petroleum department should be summoned and remarked that the relevant authorities in Islamabad don’t pay heed to any notice issued by the SHC.

The court rejected the government lawyer’s request to adjourn the hearing of the pleas. Justice Mazhar told the government lawyer to ask the ministry of petroleum why a reply hasn’t been submitted and then inform the court about it. He added that if they don’t want to submit a reply, the case will proceed without it.

Petitioner Iqbal Kazmi said that notices were issued to the petroleum ministry, the federal government and others and the method of increasing the prices was also sought.

The plea argued that the prices of petroleum products are being increased without the permission of the parliament. With the International Monetary Fund’s officials in control of the national treasury, the economy is being ruined. Despite the fact that a plea against this matter is under trial, the price of petroleum products will increase again from June 1. The plea maintained that the court should have been taken into confidence before rates increased as it also poses a challenge to the independent judiciary.

Perween Rahman murder

The SHC granted an extension to the government lawyer to submit the joint investigation team (JIT) report in the murder case of Orangi Pilot Project Director Perween Rahman.

A two-member bench headed by Chief Justice Ahmed Ali Shaikh and comprising Justice Omar Sial heard the bail pleas by the accused, Amjad Swati, Ayaz Ali and Imran Swati. The counsel for the accused said that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had formed a JIT against the accused on the Supreme Court’s orders.

The court asked where the JIT report was. The government lawyer maintained that they hadn’t received the report yet and therefore, an extension should be granted for submission.

The court granted the extension and adjourned the hearing till June 11.

According to the counsels for the accused, final arguments couldn’t be presented in the trial court for the past four months. The JIT has been formed thrice before. According to the government lawyer, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has also interrogated the accused in jail.

Dual employment

The same bench also accepted the bail plea of Dr Majid Ali Bhatti in a NAB inquiry against dual employment.

Dr Bhatti and Dr Muhammad Tayab are accused in the case.

The prosecutor for the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) argued that the doctors employed in the government sector are not allowed to serve any other post at the same time. However, Dr Bhatti was employed at the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) and social security department at the same time.

Dr Bhatti’s counsel maintained that his client was serving on the post of a chest specialist in KMC. After the inquiry, his client was fired from the social security department and resigned from the KMC.

The court asked the accused how long he served at the KMC and the social security department. Dr Bhatti tried to give vague answers in his speech over which, the court scolded him and told him to speak clearly.

The court granted Dr Bhatti bail against a surety of Rs200,000 and adjourned the hearing till June 20.

Dual party membership

The Sindh High Court (SHC) ordered on Thursday the petitioner to approach the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) over the plea pertaining to dual party membership of Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.

A two-member bench comprising Justice Mazhar and Justice Faisal directed the petitioner to approach the ECP first. Justice Mazhar remarked that if anyone has given false details or statement to the commission, the ECP was authorised to hear a plea over it. He said that the court was leaving the plea pending, according to Article 199 of the SHC rules, and added that if the election commission doesn’t take any decision on the plea, the court will look into the matter.

The court also ordered the petitioner, Iqbal Kazmi, to study the Marium Nawaz case.

The plea argued that the political party, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), wasn’t registered with the ECP till 2010. Instead, Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarian (PPPP) was registered with the commission by Makhdoom Amin Fahim who was the party president.

According to the ECP, PPP and PPPP are two separate political parties with two different chairpersons and presidents. The current president of PPPP is Asif Ali Zardari while the PPP chairperson is Bilawal. Their party symbols are also different, an arrow for PPPP and a sword for PPP.

PPP doesn’t have any seat in the National Assembly, provincial assemblies or the Senate.

Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal are the party president of PPPP and chairperson of PPP, respectively. The petition argues that no party leader can hold a senior position in any political party other than the one through which they’re elected and as such, Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal are no longer Sadiq and Amin (honest and trustworthy).

Published in The Express Tribune, May 31st, 2019.

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