OGRA’s member gas in the dock

Petitioner alleges his appointment violates rules and is against SC ruling.



ISLAMABAD:


The appointment of member gas in the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) has been challenged in the Islamabad High Court with the allegation that he has been hired in violation of rules and judgment of the Supreme Court.


In a petition, the petitioner, Masood Javed, also accused Member Gas Aamir Naseem of being involved in criminal negligence and maladministration as general manager of Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) as more than a dozen shopkeepers were burnt alive in G-9 Markaz, Karachi Company, Islamabad along with their properties due to a blast caused by gas leakage.

An FIR was registered against him in the Margalla Police Station, Islamabad. Such a person deserved punishment, but on the contrary he had been elevated and that too illegally as member gas with the mandate to ensure application of safety standards.

After the controversial appointment of Tauqir Sadiq as Ogra chairman in 2009, this is another case in the regulator where the hiring of member gas has been challenged in the court on different grounds.

During the tenure of the previous government of Pakistan Peoples Party, the appointment of Sadiq was challenged in the Islamabad High Court as he allegedly held a fake degree in Masters in Law. In this connection, two former prime ministers are facing a case in the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

The petitioner referred to an earlier case in the Supreme Court, in which the court held that to test the validity of the appointment process, a test should be adopted based on prescribed objective selection procedure followed with rigour, objectivity, transparency and due diligence to ensure compliance with the law.

“The appointment of member gas is a blatant violation of the apex court’s decision,” the petitioner said.

The petitioner further said the hiring of member gas was in stark conflict of interest to Section 5(4) of the Ogra Ordinance 2002.

Ogra is mandated to determine revenue requirements of gas utilities – SNGPL and Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) – and adjudicate operational and gas theft complaints against the companies in quasi-judicial proceedings.

Member gas was serving as senior general manager of SNGPL when he joined Ogra. This was a classical and worst case of conflict of interest that transformed the one being regulated into a regulator, the petition said.

After his appointment, he added, the affairs of the regulator started worsening and it took action and victimised the officials who did not follow his “illegal” directives. The member gas also threatened to sack a senior official who refused to implement his orders.

When approached, the member gas refused to comment.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 3rd, 2014.

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