LAHORE – The federal government has failed to fulfill its constitutional responsibility by not ending menace of loadshedding, leaving the people in the lurch, Lahore High Court Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial observed on Friday.

The chief justice further remarked the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) had failed evolving mechanism in controlling or eliminating electricity theft and line losses.

The chief justice was hearing a petition against electricity loadshedding during Sehr, Iftar timings. Advocate Azhar Siddique filed the petition.

The court directed authorities and departments concerned to take steps for eradication of loadshedding and equal distribution to all and sundry. The court further ordered to abolish exemption being given to certain housing societies and treat them equally.

“It is the paramount obligation of state under article 9 of the constitution to provide basic necessities of life to people and the electricity is one of important elements of the life,” the chief justice further observed.

Judicial Activism Panel chairman Advocate Azhar Siddique submitted Punjab was being subjected to discrimination and given less electricity share. He said in other provinces, electricity theft was at large scale and bill recovery at low even then Punjab was being victimised in electricity load management plan.

He pointed out that the power production was being effected due to non recovery of bills from other provinces.

He argued that all government hospitals were exempted from loadshedding but during the last month three patients had been died because of loadshedding at the hospitals. He said Bahria Town housing society in Lahore was also exempted from loadshedding in violation of article 9 and 25 of the constitution. When asked by the court, the Wapda counsel sought time to file reply to this effect.

Petitioner further pointed out that in a case about Neelum Jehlum Project pending before the high court, the government had taken a plea that the no work was being done on the this project. But on the other hand more than Rs26 billion had been collected from public through surcharge in electricity bills, he added.

The CJ adjourned further hearing until September 12.

In this case, the court had already directed the federal government and Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco) to carry out equal electricity loadshedding across the country.

Advocate Siddique had presented a published statement of Public Accounts Committee chairman and MNA Nadeem Afzal Chan against unfair and unscheduled loadshedding. The lawyer said Chan threatened to tender resignation if loadshedding in his political constituency was not end like the constituencies of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, minister of water and power Ahmad Mukhtar and other ministers.

The lawyer said the statement of MNA Chan was enough to establish the discriminatory attitude being meted out to Punjab.

“Despite an announcement made by the minister of water and power, citizens were facing severe loadshedding not only during Sehr and Iftar timings but all the day”, the petitioner added.

He argued that unavailability of electricity supply in Ramazan was violating the fundamental rights as envisaged in the Constitution of Pakistan especially under Article 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 19-A, 23, 24 and 25.