ISLAMABAD -  The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Friday deferred hearing in a petition seeking initiation of contempt proceedings against Principal Secretary of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif for placing five regulatory bodies under their respective ministries in violation of the court orders.

A single bench of IHC comprising Justice Athar Minallah conducted hearing of the petition and adjourned it after an assistant attorney general requested the court to defer the proceedings in this matter till final adjudication of this matter pending before a division bench of the IHC.

During the hearing, Assistant Attorney General Wasif Shah appeared before the court and informed it that the IHC division bench had suspended the order of single bench. Therefore, he requested the court to adjourn the hearing in this matter till the detailed verdict of the DB.

Later, the IHC bench deferred the hearing in this matter for indefinite period.

Earlier, in March this year, the same single bench had nullified the federal government’s order of placing the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA), National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA), Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) and Frequency Allocation Board (FAB) under their respective ministries.

In his short order, Justice Minallah had said that the federal government shall be at liberty to place the matter before the Council of Common Interests (CCI) for a decision, pursuant to powers conferred under Article 154 of the Constitution.

He added that the constitutional provision unambiguously provided that the formulation and regulation of policies in relation to matters contained in part II of the Federal Legislative List fell exclusively within the ambit of the CCI.

Likewise, he stated, the CCI has been expressly mandated to exercise supervision and control over the regulatory authorities established under the federal laws.

Justice Minallah ruled that prior to issuance of the notification the arrangement, under which the federal government was handling the affairs of the regulatory authorities through the Cabinet Division, shall continue till varied, altered or amended pursuant to a decision by the CCI.

In this matter, the petitioner Mohammad Nawaz who is a worker of former chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry’s Pakistan Justice and Democratic Party (PJDP) had challenged the said notification of the federal government.

In his contempt petition, Nawaz has alleged that the respondent Fawad Hassan Fawad, principal secretary to the PM and the joint secretary cabinet division committed contempt of court by reissuing the notification for placing these authorities under the ministries.

Muhammad Nawaz moved the court through his counsel Saliheen Moghal seeking contempt proceedings against Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Fawad Hassan Fawad and the federation through Joint Secretary of Cabinet Division for not implementing a previous decision of the IHC.

The petitioner stated that he has come to know that the respondents have re-issued the notification with a slight change in the wording with the same subject – control and supervision of the independent regulatory bodies – without any decision, approval or consent of the Council of Common Interests (CCI).

He added: “No decision or approval of the CCI has been obtained by the respondents as is required under the Constitution and the order of this court.”

Therefore, he prayed the court to initiate proceedings against the respondents and operation and effect of ‘contemptuous notification’ issued on June 6 may be suspended till the conclusion of the contempt proceedings and punishment of the ‘delinquent’.

He further requested the court to issue a compliance order of its earlier judgment in its true letter and spirit.

 

SHAHID RAO