ISLAMABAD - Supreme Court on Wednesday adjourned the hearing of a case regarding tax on extraction and use of underground water by the industries and mineral water companies till date in office.

A three-member Bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan, heard the case.

During the course of proceeding, the Deputy Attorney General said that provincial governments had to submit recommendations regarding the law on water prices but recommendations had not received yet from the provinces. Punjab Additional Advocate General said that the provincial Cabinet had approved the Water Act and it would be presented in the Assembly soon for approval.

The counsel for Sindh govt said that the provincial govt had given four different recommendations and the law regarding water already existed in the province.  He said that the provincial government was also charging fee on water use in Karachi.

At present, Sindh government’s issues could not be resolved by the Attorney General’s office, he added.

He said that the draft law of Sindh had been forwarded to the Attorney General office.

Justice Umar Ata Bandial said that the provincial governments were receiving extremely low cost over using of canal water.

Justice Bandial said that it seemed that the water situation in Sindh was developing like Katas Raj Temple area.

The Sindh government counsel said that the provincial government could not submit suggestions in the Attorney General office until the Cabinet approved the Bill.

Upon this, Justice Umar Ata Bandial said that the provincial government should have to resolve its concerns first and then submit recommendations to the Attorney General office.

The counsel for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government said that consultation with relevant stakeholders was underway.

The provincial government was also seeking public opinion regarding water prices, he added.

He said that there was a need to look into industries interest and pleaded the court not to issue strict orders.

Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan said that Sindh government had not submitted details to the Attorney General office while the Punjab government had submitted details of all districts.

He inquired why Sindh government did not do any work yet.

Justice Umar Ata Bandial said that the three provinces had been agreed but Sindh government did not do anything.

The counsel for the Punjab government said in 75 per cent water meters had been installed in the province. Installation of meters had been completed in Lahore and Faisalabad, he added.

He said that it would take another month to complete the installation of meters in Punjab.

Justice Umar Ata Bandial asked how many meters were installed in Sindh.

The Advocate General Sindh replied that the Committee had given list of 14 Industries where meters had been installed.

He said that Water Committee did not submit the list of other industries.

Justice Umar Ata Bandial said that it seemed that the relationship between Water Committee Chairman Dr Ahsan Siddiqui and the government of Sindh had no cordial relations.

Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan said that the court had ordered the Sindh government to take the list itself and work on it.

He directed the Sindh government to submit list of industries working in the province on next date of hearing.

Dr Ahsan Siddiqui said that there had been three meetings of Water Committee.

He said that the provincial government was receiving Rs 50 paisa per 1,000 gallons of underground water and 40 per cent of this water was wasted.

The court said that mineral water companies were selling one liter water by Rs 50.

He asked the mineral water companies to give one rupee of this Rs 50 to the government.

Advocate Ali Zaffar counsel for a mineral water company said one rupee was a big amount against per liter.

Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan said that the court was not reviewing review petitions regarding the decision to charge one rupee per liter as the case regarding review of one rupee decision had not been fixed for hearing.

Ali Zaffar said that company’s profit on a one liter water bottle sale was less than Rs five.

He said that how a company could pay Rs 19 tax on a profit of less than Rs five.

He said that the company was using less than 70 per cent of the water in juices.

Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan said that water extracted from the land would be charged and companies could use this water for any purpose.

Dr Ahsan Siddiqui said that there was 96 per cent water in juice.

Justice Umar Ata Bandial asked the Water Committee Chairman to draft his reservations and provide them to the provincial governments.

The court directed the provincial governments to submit water-related proposals to the Attorney General office.

The Bench said that industries should make water proposals and provide them to provincial governments and provincial governments submit companies proposals to the court.