The Supreme Court on Monday declared the Reko Diq agreement void and in conflict with the country’s laws.

In its ruling, a three-judge bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, stated that the agreement reached on July 23, 1993 was in conflict with the laws of the country.

It is worth noting here that the apex court had reserved its verdict on December 21 after counsel of all petitioners and respondents completed their arguments. Today, the three-member bench announced its ruling in favor of Balochistan government.

The short verdict states that the agreement under which Tethyan Copper Company Pakistan (TCCP) was given contract, has been annulled, now Tethyan has no valid right in connection with Reko Diq agreement, as the agreement under which Tethyan obtained rights, has been declared null and void.

The 16-page short verdict says that all amendments after the agreement were illegal and in contradiction with the rules and regulations.

The operative part of the order said: The Chagai Hills Exploration Joint Venture Agreement dated 23.07.1993 is held to have been executed contrary to the provisions of the Mineral Development Act, 1948, the Mining Concession Rules, 1970 framed thereunder, the Contract Act, 1872, the Transfer of Property Act, 1882, etc., and is even otherwise not valid, therefore, the same is declared to be illegal, void and non est. The Addendum No. 1 dated 04.03.2000, Option Agreement dated 28.04.2000, Alliance Agreement dated 03.04.2002 and Novation Agreement dated 01.04.2006, which are based upon, and emanate from, CHEJVA are also held to be illegal and void”.

“All these instruments do not confer any right on BHP, MINCOR, TCC, TCCP, Antofagasta or Barrick Gold in respect of the matters covered therein. It is further held that EL-5 is tantamount to exploration contrary to rules and regulations as the claim of TCCP is based on CHEJVA, which document itself has been held to be non est. Therefore, before exploration it was incumbent upon it to have sought rectification of its legal status.”

It should be mentioned here that the court has accepted for hearing a number of identical petitions filed in the court against the lease of gold and copper mines in Reko Diq, Chaghi District, to the Tethyan Copper Company (TCC).

During the last hearing, Tethyan Company’s counsel Khalid Anwar defended the lease deal reached between the company and the Balochistan government. The TCC also invoked the jurisdiction of the International Chambers for Commerce and International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes against the Government of Pakistan for not renewing the prospective Reko Diq minerals licence in accordance with Balochistan Mining Rules 2002.