ISLAMABAD  - The Supreme Court on Thursday expressing annoyance over acting chairman National Electronic Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) questioned why the state institutions are being run on ad hocism?

A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry asked, how could an acting of Nepra take decisions independently. The court was surprised to know that acting chairman Khawaja Naeem was the relative of the water and power minister.

Since 1995 till date 21 chairmen of Nepra were appointed, out of them only 7 were full chairman, while 8 were acting and 5 vice-chairmen.

The CJP lamented that the tradition of favouritism in high-level appointments is still alive. “Everything is being run through nepotism and junior officers are being appointed on key posts”, he added.

The CJP also said that the government promulgates the Protection of Pakistan Ordinance in 24 hours but no legislation was done about Federal Service Tribunal, therefore, it had been ineffective since 2012. He said had the federal government not agreed with the SC judgment in the Khawaja Asif petition, then it should have filed a review petition in this regard.

Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja also pointed out that the acting chairmen are looking after Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), and it has been disclosed now that Nepra is also being run by an acting chairman.

He said that acting chairman always felt insecure about his job; therefore, he could not introduce a stable policy.

On the other hand, Attorney General for Pakistan Muneer A Malik also admitted that after the apex court judgment in Khawaja Asif case, several departments’ heads were not appointed. The AGP, however, ensured the bench that he would convey the courts concerns about ad hoc appointments to the federal government.

The counsel for Nepra Rashdeen Kasuri submitted the list of 21 Nepra’s chairmen, which had been appointed since 1997. He told the matter would be solved now, as the case has been taken up by the court. Upon that the CJ reprimanded the counsel and remarked that what the government is doing if the courts have to undertake its responsibilities.

Justice Chaudhry remarked that the top legal officer of the country must satisfy the bench that if everything was to be run by the court then what were the functions of the government.

During the course of hearing, Muhammad Azhar Siddique, counsel for a party in the case, revealed that Khawaja Muhammad Naeem was not perfuming as a permanent chairman of NEPRA. He also pointed out that Pepco was also being headed by an acting managing director. The court then asked Pepco Zargham Ghulam Ishaq Khan, who was present in the court to clarify his position.

Siddique alleged that NEPRA was not performing its function independently, but only following the directives of the federal government to run its affairs, adding that Nepra has also not prescribed the performance standards for investment plans as well.

The counsel for Pak-Arab Fertilizer Limited Khalid Anwar contended that according to the federal government’s policy, fertilizer industry was the second priority about supplying gas.

Anwar submitted that during the current fiscal year, power sector was supplied 91 per cent of its allocated daily quota of gas, general industry 57 per cent, fertilizer companies 59 per cent and the CNG sector 80 percent of its allocated quota.

He informed the bench, “It is quite apparent that the fertilizer industry is being discriminated against by SNGPL on account of the preference to the CNG sector for the period from July 1,2012 to June 2013, fertilizer companies on the SNGPL network receive an average of 29 MMCFD of gas for feedstock and 8 MMCFD for fuel (15.41 percent of the allocated gas). This amounts to a mere 2.45 percent of the total amount of gas supplied by SNGPL to all consumers”.

Terming the gas supply to the CNG sector by the SNGPL a clear violation of the load management policy approved by the ECC Cabinet, Khalid Anwer submitted that fertilizer companies on the SNGPL network are hardly receiving any gas.

He further apprised the bench that his client Pak-Arab had only received gas for 44 days since December 2012 saying, “Nevertheless, at a financial sacrifice, the entire labour and staff have been retained and are being paid salaries at a cost of one billion per annum”.

Due to shortage of time, the bench asked Khalid Anwer to resume his arguments on next date of hearing and postponed the case for November 11.