LAHORE - The Lahore High Court Thursday issued notice and sought a report from chairman WAPDA on numerous identical petitions filed by as many as 20 industrial units challenging the levy of additional surcharge in electricity bill for the construction of the Neelum-Jehlum Hydro Power Development Unit. Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed passed the order while taking up the petitions of Pakistan Papers Mills and others. The petitioner companies through their counsels have argued that they are industrial consumers of different distribution companies and their tariff is determined by the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) that performs under the Regulation of Generation, Transmission and Distribution of Electric Power Act XL of 1997, commonly known as NEPRA Act. They pointed out that a slightest fluctuation in the electricity has a direct bearing on end price of the product being made by the petitioners. In these circumstances respondents had issued a notification on January 4 whereby RS0.10/KWH has been imposed as an additional charge on the consumption of electricity that would be charged till December 2015 to create a fund known as Neelam-Jehlum Hydro Power Development Fund. They pointed out that finally the said levy had been reflected for the very first time in the electricity bill for the current month under the head of NJS. Arguing the legal points involved in the case, the petitioners' counsels mentioned that no authority including the federal government can act under the NEPRA Act to impose any levy in relation to electricity without having prior recourse to NEPRA. But admittedly no such recourse adopted in this case to seek a determination from NEPRA. The levy has been directly imposed that not only amounts to changing in the rates of electricity but also to change the terms and conditions of electricity supply. The petitioner further argued that imposition of levy also amounts to taxing while under the Article 76 of the Constitution, taxability is to be determined by the legislature through act of parliament and the executive authorities have no power to impose such taxes. They said the imposition of levy without due process of law would not only be an excessive burden on the consumers but also hamper their professional and business activities. They said an additional burden had also been put on them by including surcharge for the previous months in the bills of current month. They said neither Electricity Act 1910, nor WAPDA Act, 1958 or the NEPRA Act provided for the imposition of levy for raising fund for future investment and construction of projects. To provide better atmosphere and quality public facilities is the responsibility of the state as enshrined in Article 4 and 24. But the federal government by imposing the levy has shifted its responsibility on the shoulders of general public as they have been subjected to compulsory exaction of money without any legal justification. The petitioner companies requested the court to set aside the imposition of levy under the head of the Neelum-Jehlum Hydro Power Development Fund as it is illegal and unconstitutional. They also prayed that respondents might be restrained from recovery of the any amount under the head of NJS and refund or readjust any amount so far received under this head.