LAHORE - The Lahore High Court yesterday suspended a notification issued by the federal government to transfer administrative control of five regulatory bodies to the ministries concerned, with directions to the attorney general of Pakistan to appear in person on the next hearing.

The federal government had transferred the administrative control of National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra), Oil & Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra), Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) and Frequency Allocation Board (FAB) to their respective ministries.

During the proceedings, a deputy attorney general told the court that the cabinet had given the approval of the action; hence, approval of Council of Common Interests was not mandatory. However, Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah suspended the notification and observed that rule of law was important because legally the prime minister should have sought approval from CCI before issuing such a notification. The CJ directed the attorney general of Pakistan to assist the court on the next hearing.

Advocate Sheraz Zaka, the counsel for the petitioner, had contended that an approval from Council of Common Interests (CCI) was mandatory under the Constitution as well as under the judgments of the Supreme Court, but it had not been sought by the government, which he said was unlawful.

The counsel argued that the government was adopting the role of a regulator by putting all these regulatory bodies under their respective ministries and it would badly affect the system and the people. He prayed that the impugned notification be declared null and void for being unlawful. The court adjourned the hearing for one month.