LAHORE  - The Lahore High Court on Wednesday summoned the Water and Power joint secretary and Pepco managing director on a petition seeking audit of the payment given to Independent Power Producers (IPPs).

Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial directed the respondents to appear in person on January 20.

Earlier, the petitioner had submitted that the masses were facing hardships due to the prolonged electricity loadshedding. He said that the country’s industrial sector was also bearing irreparable loss on account of the unending power crisis.

The Supreme Court had already directed for gas supply for the production of electricity to curtail the power shortage, but the court directions were not obeyed, the petitioner pointed out adding that the apex court had also ordered for audit of Rs480 billion paid to the IPPs.

The petitioner maintained that the government had paid the amount to its favourite IPPs which were not paying heed towards producing electricity. He contended that the respondents failed to provide any relief to the public. He also submitted that the current level of loadshedding exceeded 8 to 10 hours per day in the cities and was even larger in the rural areas.

Meanwhile, the Punjab government was given last opportunity to submit its reply on a petition about the provision of special judicial allowance for the lower courts’ employees.

In the LHC, Punjab Acting Advocate General Mustafa Ramday submitted that the Punjab chief minister has formed a committee to finalise recommendations in this regard as the seat of secretary finance was vacant. He sought more time from the court and said the matter would be resolved soon.

The counsel for the petitioners submitted that the court had already ordered for provision of the allowance but the government was flouting the verdict.

Abdul Malik and others had filed a petition contending that the subordinate judiciary staffers were performing their duties similar to the employees of the Lahore High Court. Their counsel said that they were entitled to be dealt equally with the LHC staff members in accordance with the spirit of law as envisaged by Article 4 of the Constitution, being employees of the same province.

He pointed out that the special judicial allowance, equal to three times of initial substantive pay, in addition to judicial and utility allowances, had been allowed to the judges in district judiciary and also to the LHC staff. But, the same had not been extended to the petitioners working in Punjab subordinate judiciary, he contended. He requested the court to direct the finance ministry to pay judicial allowance to the subordinate judiciary staff as well.

The court recorded statements of both sides, and put off hearing until January 24. The court also directed the acting AGP to submit the committee report on the next hearing.

Meanwhile, the LHC sought reply from the Old Anarkali SHO on a petition seeking registration of FIR against Senator Babar Awan on fraud charges.

Justice Mazhar Ali Akbar Naqvi passed this order on a petition moved by Advocate Afaq Ahmed who submitted that the Supreme Court had suspended practice licence of Babar Awan. He said that in such situation Awan could not appear before any court as a lawyer.

However, he said, Awan is still appearing before the courts introducing himself as a lawyer which was fraud and the court should take notice of the situation. He also requested the court to order registration of FIR against Awan under fraud charges. The court sought reply from the SHO within ten days.