ISLAMABAD – The Supreme Court on Tuesday observed that no company, foreign or local, was above the Constitution and that upholding of the law as well as transparency in any contract or agreement were of critical national importance. “Article 5 of the Constitution must be considered while entering into an agreement with foreign companies,” Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry held, while heading a three-judge bench hearing identical petitions filed against the lease awarded to foreign companies for exploration of gold and copper fields in Reko Diq area of Balochistan’s Chaghai district.Resuming his arguments, Ahmer Bilal Soofi, counsel for the Balochistan government, contended that concession and exemptions granted to the BHP Billiton in the instant matter were against the law. He argued that the mineral laws barred the government from entering into an agreement with any foreign firm. Upon this, Justice Chaudhry observed that amendments were made to the laws to attract foreign investors and that the court supported the same. The chief justice directed the counsel to cite the local laws instead of international laws to substantiate his contentions, saying that no company - foreign or local - was above the Constitution. It was mandatory to follow Article 5 of the Constitution when entering into an agreement with a foreign company that stipulated loyalty to the State and obedience to the Constitution and law by all, added the chief justice. Referring to the Pakistan Steel Mills case, Justice Chaudhry said the PSM contract was cancelled because it was violative of the law, and held that no contract had any legal status if it was contrary to the law and Constitution. He also observed that the Balochistan government could not object to the concession/exemptions earlier granted to a foreign company in the instant matter by itself. He said the provincial government should rectify its mistakes instead of passing on the onus to the court.Quoting the Contract Act of Pakistan, Justice Chaudhry remarked that it allowed limited amendments to an agreement, subject to correction of any clause of the contract. The court would again take up the pleas for hearing on Wednesday (today).During Monday’s proceedings, the three-judge bench was informed by Balochistan's Advocate-General Amanullah Kanrani that the governor had signed the agreement without the provincial cabinet's approval.The chief justice directed the Balochistan government to provide evidence with respect to its stance, adding that whosoever had violated the law would have to pay back. Moreover, Kanrani, while concluding his arguments, said the law did not allow the awarding of mining lease to the TCC.Upon this, the chief justice reprimanded him, saying he had been reviewing documents for the past three days and that he should not waste time unnecessarily by shifting the onus upon the courts. Kanrani also told the court that the Barrick Gold and Antofagasta Minerals became part of the agreement without a real reason. He said the Barrick Gold bought the file of the agreement in $60 million, whereas the Antofagasta Minerals paid $140 million for the agreement's file.Beginning his arguments, Ahmer Bilal Sufi told the bench that land had not been specifically allotted in the Reko Diq agreement. To which, Justice Gulzar inquired whether Soofi was claiming that the agreement was bogus. Justice Chaudhry remarked that the agreement, in its spirit, did not ratify a mining licence, but simply agreed to the filing of a request for that purpose.