ISLAMABAD - Embezzlement of over Rs. 150-200 billion in pricing mechanisms for petroleum products in the international and local markets has been made since 1999 to till date by the beneficiaries, oil companies, Ogra and the federal government, counsel of PML-N leader Iqbal Zaffar Jhagra informed Supreme Court on Tuesday. Senior lawyer Ikram Chaudhry informed the three-member bench of the apex court, which heard the case in accordance with Oil, CNG and LPG prices, that the billions of rupees embezzlement was being made by the authorities concerned with Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources. Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry headed the bench, which included Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja and Justice Ghulam Rabbani. The bench, which heard the two petitions of Rukhsana Zuberi and Iqbal Zaffar Jhagra, sought the report from the federal government in regard with oil prices within ten days. It expressed displeasure over procrastination of implementation of Rana Bhagwandas Judicial Commission Report on oil pricing. It also expressed resentment over non-cooperation of the Oil and Gas Ministry with the judicial commission. It appeared a tacit understanding with the government of the day which left everything to the sweet will of the oil companies by overlooking loot and plunder in fixing oil prices, the bench observed. The Chief Justice remarked that the Oil Companies Advisory Committee (OCAC) that used to determine oil prices was constituted thirty years ago and there was a pressing need to amend the old policy. He observed that there was no justification to increase prices of petroleum products when its prices were on decline in the international market. Under which principle billions of rupees in taxes are being received on petroleum products? he asked. He said it was correct that the governments couldnt run without imposing taxes but imposing so many taxes on one product is unjustified. Secretary Ministry of Petroleum Salim Mehmood informed the court that 70 percent crude oil was imported while only 17 percent was produced in the country. More than 10 million tonnes crude oil was imported for the fulfilment of the country, he explained. At this point, Chief Justice asked Salim why the price of oil produced in the country was linked with the imported crude oil. While Justice Jawwad surprised over the cabinet performance as the steps were not taken recommended by the advisory committee. He asked the DG (Oil) Sabir Hussain to manage, ensure and monitor the demand and supply of petroleum products throughout the country. Khalid Anwar, counsel for oil companies, argued that the OCAC was established in 1999 when the then chief executive Pervez Musharraf announced deregulation policy by introducing a formula called rationalised import parity policy on petroleum products. The embezzlement started from that period as he gave tenders to some individuals on nepotism basis, he explained. The Chief justice asked Deputy Attorney General Shah Khawar to go Cabinet Division and ask them why they were not approving the commission report as the relevant minister himself had stated that the government was earning Rs. 27 per litre on petroleum products. Khawar remarked that it would be highly inconceivable to companies interest. It was also observed during the hearing that the spirit of deregulation policy was to authorise OCAC till the formation of a permanent regulatory authority, which was later established on March 28, 2002, when Ogra Ordinance 2002 was promulgated and enforced. The court asking the relevant authorities to submit their reports within ten days and adjourns the hearing by 29 Oct. Earlier, the apex court asked the then attorney general Latif Khosa to file his reply on the report presented by the commission on oil prices constituted by the apex court with Justice (Retd) Rana Bhagwandas as its head. Khalid Anwar submitted that the oil companies had already submitted its reply. The petitions have been pending for long and the court took up the same after submission of a report by a one-man judicial commission on petroleum prices. The one-man commission suggested in the report that there was need for rationalisation and review of domestic petroleum prices in view of various factors including reduction in government duties and taxes and freight rates, dollar-rupee parity, the cost of refining, margins allowed to distributors and dealers commissions.