PESHAWAR -  The Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Wednesday stayed the federal government’s decision of transferring the administrative control of the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) to the Ministry of Water and Power.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Ikramullah Khan stayed the federal government memorandum (notification) till February 14, the next hearing of the petition.

The bench also issued notice to federation through cabinet division, Nepra through its chairman and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government through chief secretary, directing them to explain their position and submit comments within 14 days.

The bench issued the stay order in a writ petition filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) parliamentary leader in the Senate Nauman Wazir challenging transferring of the administrative control of the Nepra from the cabinet division to the water and power division.

The petitioner’s lawyer, Shumail Ahmad Butt submitted before the bench that the federal government’s decision would end independence of the regulatory body. He told the bench that Nepra is placed in direct administrative control of the same ministry. It would not only give birth to serious instances of conflict of interest but also there would invariably be situations where Nepra will act both as adjudicator and the party in the same cause, he added.

The PTI senator sought orders of the court to declare the December 19, 2016, cabinet division’s memorandum on the transfer of administrative control of regulatory authorities to the relevant divisions and more particularly, Nepra, to the water and power division as illegal.

The petitioner claimed that the cabinet division in an illegal and unlawful manner had issued a memorandum on December 1, 2016, whereby alongside a few other regulatory authorities, administrative control of the Nepra was transferred from the cabinet division to water and power division, making secretary water and power a de facto head of the Nepra.

Since the decision was not acceptable to Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government, thus the provincial chief minister wrote a letter to federal Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination Riaz Hussain Pirzada on December 13 expressing concerns in this regard.

The petitioner added that the Sindh government’s opposition to the move was also brought to the notice of the federal government. He claimed that the federal government knowing that it might not be able to get the approval of the decision from the CCI removed the agenda item from its meeting. The petitioner said the cabinet division issued the impugned memorandum on December 19, 2016 all of a sudden.

He said the impugned decision without the approval of the CCI was a glaring violation of Article 153, 154 of the Constitution read with the fourth schedule appended therewith. He added that when the secretary water and power becomes ‘the boss’ of chairman and members of the Nepra what independence or fairness one can expect.