Islamabad - The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has issued notice to an Austrian company, OMV Maurice Energy Limited, in a contempt of court petition for defying court’s stay orders.

Talking to The Nation here on Sunday, petitioner’s counsel Jawad Hassan Advocate informed that Chief Justice IHC, Justice Muhammad Anwar Khan Kasi, has issued the notices and directed the Registrar office to fix the next hearing of this matter in the first week of May for further proceedings.

The court issued notices to the management of OMV Maurice Energy Limited (OMV) in a contempt petition filed by the Ocean Pakistan Limited (OPL) and Zaver Petroleum Corporation Limited (ZPCL) through their counsels Jawad Hassan Advocate and Umair Saleemm Advocate.

It is to be noted that OPL and ZPCL are engaged in exploration and production of petroleum products under various concessions agreement with the government of Pakistan.

Jawad Hassan Advocate informed that he had argued that contempt petition is arising out of the order dated 30 December 2013 of the chief justice of Islamabad High Court, wherein the management of OMV is accused of their illegal steps which are not only contrary to the dispensation of justice and the process of the court, but also constitute gross contempt of court with a deliberate attempt to undermine its dignity and authority.

He further contended that despite the restraining order dated 30 December 2013, OMV is threatening OPL and ZPCL, and it has intentionally stopped the lifting of/producing what would be OPL and ZPCL’s share of condensate and natural gas from 1st April 2014, which is not only in violation of their contractual obligations but also is against the decision given by the Chief Justice of Islamabad High Court.

The counsel added that this had caused irreparable loss to the reservoir, the government, OPL and ZPCL, thereby adversely affecting the ultimate recovery of petroleum. He continued that while the legal status of OMV is under challenge by OPL and ZPCL in Intra Court Appeal No. 73/2012, the management of OMV is regularly threatening OPL and ZPCL by issuing several illegal, unlawful and without any authority cash calls default notices, which constitute gross contempt of the said court orders.

Advocate Jawad stated before the court that the chief justice of IHC was already aware of that the proceedings in respect of OMV’s legal status are pending, OMV has approached International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) and International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), London, on 10 November 2014 and 14 November 2014 respectively, in respect of their arbitration claim of cash calls, which is replica of the same cash calls filed in Arbitration Petition No. 249/2011 before this court.

He further maintained before the court that the management of OMV is lobbying against OPL and ZPCL, and maliciously and continuously threatening to sabotage the transactions of OPL and ZPCL with other companies, including BHP and Premier Oil. Further, management of OMV is illegally and unlawfully instigating the partners, especially Government Holdings, to block the transaction of OPL and ZPCL by claiming their pre-emption right.

Petitioner’s counsel added that there is likelihood that the illegal and unlawful actions of the management of OMV violate and adversely affect the constitutional guaranteed right to trade, business and profession granted under Article 18 of the Constitution of Pakistan, 1973.

After hearing the arguments, the CJ IHC Justice Kasi directed to fix the main contempt petition in the first week of May, 2015 for arguments and also issued notices in respect of the same.