LAHORE - The Lahore High Court has adjourned for September 18 the hearing of various identical petitions challenging the constant increase in electricity tariff for commercial and common consumers. On Monday all the parties were not present in the court that cause the adjournment of the cases. The court had already restrained the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) and electric distribution companies from implementing the increased tariff. Justice Hamid Ali Shah passed this order on five identical petitions filed by the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTAMA), two spinning factories and some other companies. The petitioners through their counsel Mian Mahmood Rashid and others pleaded that the NEPRA had determined the tariff on February 23, 2007 and made industrial consumers to pay substantially higher rate of electricity. But despite enduring sufferings, the APTMA started making payment in the best national interest. However, just after 13 days of passing of tariff, the electric distribution companies like the Lahore Electricity Supply Company (LESCO), the Faisalabad Electricity Supply Company (FESCO), the Gujranwala Electricity Power Company (GEPCO) and the Multan Electricity Power Company (MEPCO) filed a review petition before the NEPRA. The petitioners said the NEPRA did not have the review powers under the law but it accepted their review petitions without giving nay notice to petitioners or their parent association, the APTAMA. The petitioners argued that with acceptance of review petitions on January 10, 2008 the tariff was hugely enhanced to the greatest disadvantage clearly violating the principle "no one should be condemned unheard". They pointed out that just one month after that increase, the NEPRA again made a decision on February 12, 2008 and further increased the electricity tariff while acting under self-regulated and automatic mechanism called biannual adjustment. Seven moths later the NEPRA further enhanced the tariff on August 22, 2008. They argued that the NEPRA had violated the court's order by making final determination of electricity tariff because the LHC had granted stay in a similar case against the LESCO. They said their cases were at par with the LESCO. They further argued that review order of January 10, 2008 was illegal. Senior advocate Malik Tariq Aziz had also challenged 31 per cent increase in electricity tariff termed it against the fundamental rights provided by the Constitution. He submitted that according to economic experts, the utility bills of a family went beyond 20 per cent of the income upsetting the economic equilibrium of the family. On one hand public being burdened by 31 per cent of the electricity charges and on the other hand Wapda was supplying free electricity worth millions of rupees to its serving and retired employees, he said. He added that 50 per cent people of Pakistan are living under poverty line. This increase of 31 per cent would badly affect the life. In the worse sufferance would be salaried class, he added. He prayed to issue direction for stoppage of this increase. He also prayed to increase ratio of wealth tax. He added that perks and privileges which were being given to the legislators be stopped so that fund could be generated for the national exchequer.