SC orders cases against KE for electrocution deaths

Warns against load-shedding in city, even for a single minute


Nasir Butt August 11, 2020
PHOTO: EXPRESS

KARACHI:

The Supreme Court ordered on Tuesday authorities to register murder cases against relevant KE officials for the deaths that had taken place in Karachi due to electrocution during the recent rains, adding that KE CEO Moonis Alvi's name should be placed on the Exit Control List.

A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Gulzar Ahmed and comprising Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Ijazul Ahsan, was hearing the case pertaining to the electrocution deaths and load-shedding in the metropolis at the apex court's Karachi registry.

Lashing out at the power utility, the CJP stated that the city should not be without electricity for even a minute, warning that if load-shedding continued, the only places without power would be KE offices and its officials' homes. The court further directed National Electrical Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) to take notice if the power supply in any area of the city was suspended.

"People are dying of electrocution. It appears the earth wire has been removed from the entire city," observed the CJP, adding that the KE was only making money by investing in low-quality material.

The court further stated that a detailed audit of the power distribution company should be conducted, and it should be ready to face accountability.

KE counsel Abid Zubair told the court that the main reason behind power outages in the port city was power theft.

In response, CJP Ahmed asked him why the power utility had yet not taken action against those involved in power theft. "Have you come here to tell me that load-shedding is happening due to theft?" the CJP asked, warning that he would suspend KE's licence.

Pointing out that 21 people had died of electrocution, CJP Ahmed further asked NEPRA chairperson Tauseef Farooqi why the body had not taken action against KE, to which Farooqi replied that they had imposed a penalty of Rs50 million on the power utility but the latter had acquired a stay order from court.

The court directed NEPRA officials to present records before it so it could nullify all stay orders, and also asked what could be an alternative to KE - currently the sole power distributor in the city - in case its licence was cancelled.

Meanwhile, KE CEO Alvi told the court that they had invested Rs2.5 billion over the last decade and added at least 1,000 megawatts to the power system while eliminating load-shedding in 73 per cent of the city, but this only earned him the CJP's ire, who responded, "You only talk and do no work. KE has caused more loss than it has invested."

"Do you have any what people go through when their homes are without electricity the entire night?" the CJP inquired, adding that it seemed as if Karachi's people were being made to pay for KE's losses. "KE should be audited so we can see how much they have earned."

Justice Ahsan also told Alvi that the power utility should generate more electricity to overcome the shortfall.

Advocate Faisal Siddiqui added that the issue was that NEPRA's regulations were not applied. "Under which law is the whole locality subjected to the punishment deserved by a single electricity thief?" he questioned.

The court sought a detailed report from Alvi, while also directing the NEPRA chairperson to reappear in court at the next hearing on Thursday (tomorrow).

When the KE counsel sought a week's extension for the report's submission, the CJP pointed out that the case involved Karachi and so the hearing would be in the city. He directed the counsel to submit the report on Thursday.

The court further directed Sindh Advocate General Salman Talibuddin to establish tribunals for KE and sought a complete timeline regarding power generation capacity, current production and other details from KE at the next hearing.

Talking to the media outside the court, Alvi said KE would comply with court orders. "The court has sought a plan pertaining to load-shedding and we will submit a complete plan," he stated, though he did not respond to questions about the court's orders to stop load-shedding entirely.

COMMENTS (2)

imtiaz hamid | 1 year ago | Reply

Cjp must be living in another make believe planet. I live in a major city in USA . Power goes out in wind and rainstorms , it happened yesterday. After major events such as snow storms it may last for days at times.

Zia Ullah Khan | 1 year ago | Reply

I like this gentleman. Not bothered by decades of delay in deciding court cases but getting angry at every other institution to perform even beyond the norm.

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