Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial of the Lahore High Court remarked on Monday that the loadshedding schedule should not discriminate against any province and issued notice to the Ministry of Water and Power and electricity distribution companies for August 7.
The chief justice was hearing a civil miscellaneous application for the court to direct the federal government to ensure that there are no power cuts at sehri, iftar and taraveeh during this Ramazan. Justice Bandial said that electricity should be distributed equitably among the provinces. He also said that no area should be exempted from loadshedding.
Earlier, petitioner’s counsel Muhammad Azhar Siddique argued that the Punjab was being discriminated against as it was bearing the brunt of the power shortage. He said electricity theft and non-payment of bills was much higher in other provinces than in Punjab. He said this failure to collect payment in other provinces was affecting electricity production. He said that Public Accounts Committee Chairman Nadeem Afzal Chan had threatened to resign over the “discriminatory loadshedding” in the Punjab.
The chief justice said that the electricity shortage should be shared by the entire country and then adjourned the hearing.
In the civil miscellaneous application, Siddique stated that the federal government, through the water and power minister, had pledged that there would be no power cuts during sehr, iftar and prayer times in Ramazan. But the government had failed to keep its promise. He said that citizens of the Punjab faced lengthy power cuts at all times of the day.
He accused the federal government of defrauding the citizens of the Punjab, because while they were paying their bills on time, the Water and Power Development Authority and its sister companies were not paying their bills to independent power producers or to the companies providing them furnace oil.
The petitioner argued that the federal government was violating citizens’ fundamental rights as envisaged in the Constitution under Articles 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 19-A, 23, 24 and 25.
He asked the court to issue a stay order against loadshedding, and to order authorities to present loadshedding schedules in court, particularly for housing societies that allegedly did not get any power cuts.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 31st, 2012.