Lahore - The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday dismissed as withdrawn one of the two petitions challenging notifications of transferring the administrative control of five regulatory bodies to their respective ministries.

Under the notification, the then government had transferred the control of the five regulatory bodies including the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra), Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra), Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) and the Frequency Allocation Board (FAB) to their respective ministries.

The federal government filed a reply after two and half years. During the last hearing, the court had ordered for seeking instructions from the quarters concerned whether the incumbent government wanted to uphold the notifications or not.

A law officer appeared on behalf of the federal government and submitted that the cabinet division issued a notification on December 19, 2016 for transfer of regulatory bodies to their respective ministries, but it was suspended by the LHC.

He said that the cabinet division issued another notification for transfer of regulatory bodies to the line ministries on June 6, 2017 with the approval of then federal cabinet, but the same was also suspended by the LHC.

He submitted that the government had suspended the implementation of the notifications and administrative control of the regulatory bodies had not been transferred to the ministries concerned, whereas the regulatory bodies were continuing to work under the administrative control of the cabinet division.

He said although the notifications remain suspended, they had not been withdrawn. The reply came after PTI leader Jehangir Khan Tareen last Wednesday withdrawn his petition he filed in the Lahore High Court (LHC) in 2017 against the then government’s decision to transfer the control of five regulatory bodies to their respective ministries.

Justice Shujat Ali Khan observed that the matter is resolved after the reply filed by federal government which explicitly states that the notification of placing the regulatory authorities under the control of federal govt has been issued after seeking the approval of cabinet.

The counsel on behalf of Ogra and Nepra filed replies and stated that the regulatory authorities are still functioning autonomously and there has not been any step taken which impaired their independence or autonomy.

After the replies filed, the court gave time to the counsel to read the reply and decide whether his client wants to further press upon the petition since cabinet approval has been obtained and already there are plethora of judgements that there was no need to seek approval of the Council of Common Interest.