ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Thursday issued notices to Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA), Ministry of Petroleum, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and fuel crisis committee in a petition of an oil marketing company (OMC) against the newly formed fuel crisis committee.

A single bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice of IHC Justice AtharMinallah conducted hearing of the petition challenging the fuel crisis committee and the ongoing crackdown against the OMCs allegedly responsible for a recent fuel crisis.

The IHC bench also directed the respondents to submit their responses in this matter and deferred the hearing till June 25.

During the hearing, Justice Athar observed that both OGRA and FIA were included in the committee then how would they look into the matter at the later stage.

The petitioner’s counsel informed the court that the federal minister constituted this committee on June 8 for the action against hoarding of petrol. He adopted that under the OGRA Ordinance, the federal minister could not constitute such a committee.

He continued that OGRA is a regulatory body and it could take action as per the prescribed procedure in this matter. He added that FIA was included in the committee to harass the OMCs and it is also illegal. Similarly, he also opposed the inclusion of PSO in the committee saying that its presence in the committee is equal to conflict of interest.

In the petition, the OMC requested the court to set aside the Ministry of Petroleum’s June 8 and 9 notifications, announcing governmental actions against the OMCs. The petitioner also prayed the court to stop the government from taking any action against the company until the court decides the petition.

According to the OMC, the committee on June 12 summoned the chief executive officer (CEO) of the company and levelled the “baseless” allegation of hoarding and black-marketing against the company.

The OMC made the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA), the Pakistan State Oil (PSO), the Ministry of Petroleum, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the committee as respondents.

The prices of petroleum products have continued to drop in the international market in the wake of coronavirus pandemic and the federal government also reduced fuel prices to transfer the benefit to people.

However, there emerged a shortage of fuel in various parts of the country in June.

Last week, the federal cabinet took serious notice of this “artificial” shortage as Prime Minister Imran Khan directed the petroleum division and OGRA – the fuel regulator – to ensure supply of petrol across the country within 48 to 72 hours. He had ordered authorities to take strict action against those responsible for creating the “artificial” shortage.