The notification was submitted by the Deputy Attorney General Ateeq Ahmed Shah. The court summoned Attorney General Munir A Malik today (Wednesday). Meanwhile, chief justice in his remarks said that the court would not allow increase in electricity prices. He said the country could only be governed by the constitution and the constitution did not allow the government to increase prices of electricity.
A three-member bench of the apex court comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Jawwad S Khawaja and Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed heard the suo moto notice case over loadshedding.
The court summoned the Attorney General (AG) Muneer A Malik for further hearing of the case. The court would not allow the government to commit excess on the consumers, it ruled.
Justice Jawwad observed that prima facie the notification issued by the government is illegal, adding that federal government has to inform the court that under which law this notification was issued; no one has discretionary powers to issue such notification.
According to the section 31 of Nepra Act, the federal government cannot issue such notification, Justice Jawwad said adding that according to the Nepra Act price hike is illegal. It is the violation of Articles 09 and 24 of the Constitution, he added.
MD Pepco contended that through this increase government want to reach at tariff decided by the Nepra, adding that all kind of subsidy has been withdrawn except the consumers who are using below the 200 units.
The court showed dissatisfaction at the energy policy formed by the government.
According to the Chief Justice, the government was not authorised to issue this notification.
MD Pepco informed the apex court that the recent increase was carried out by the government not Pepco and National Distribution Companies (NDC).
Justice Jawaad S Khawaja remarked that without approval from Nepra, the government could not raise prices. The Chief Justice added that in the international market the prices of petrol and diesel were on the decrease while it was the opposite in Pakistan.
Justice Jawad remarked that shortfall remained at 2,000 megawatt despite payment of circular debt.
Pepco chairman also informed the court that country had faced Rs40 billion loss due to line losses.
Deputy Attorney General Ateequr Rehman informed the court that the price increase had been brought into effect not by National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) but the federal government.
The chief justice said that the government could not implement such a hike without an approval by the main power regulatory body.
He said that despite paying off circular debt, the power shortfall still stood at over 2000 megawatts.
Upon being asked by the court, Rehman submitted in court the Sept 30 notification of tariff increase issued by the government and Nepra’s notification issued on August 05.
During the hearing, the managing director of the National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC) said that total revenue of Rs 941 billion had to be raised during one year due to which electricity price had been increased. However, he said that the hike would not affect consumers using 200 units or less.
The Nepra chairman said that the power sector runs on cash and that a shortage of money causes load shedding and power cuts. He said that due to the lack of recovery during the past six years, the receivable amount had risen to Rs441 billion.
The deputy attorney general Ateeq Ahmed Shah presented two notifications before the court issued by Pemra on August 05 and by the government issued on September 30.
The court directed the office to provide the copies of notifications to all parties and adjourned the hearing till today.
Meanwhile, the court directed the Chairman Nepra to produce record regarding captive electricity projects. The court said that the case regarding issuance of 450 CNG licenses.
According to the notification issued on Monday, consumers utilizing up to 200 units would be exempted from this increase.
The notification shows Rs5.89 per unit increase for the domestic consumers using power from 201 to 300 units. Now they will have to pay Rs14 per unit instead of Rs8.11.
In the same way, Rs3.67 per unit has been increased for the consumers using 301 to 700 units. They have to pay Rs16 per unit instead of Rs12.33.
Consumers using 701 and more units per month will pay Rs. 2.93 per unit more. For them per unit rate will be Rs18 instead of Rs15.01.
The domestic consumers having ‘Time of Use’ meters can bear Rs4 per unit hike in the peak hours.