ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has decided to hold regular hearing on a day-to-day basis in cases relating to the Gas Development Infrastructure Cess (GIDC) from next Thursday.
The decision was taken by a three-judge Supreme Court bench consisting of Justice Mushir Alam, Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah when it resumed the hearing on Thursday. However, the proceedings were adjourned till next week on a request made by senior counsel Munir A. Malik.
Hooked through a video link from the Supreme Court’s Karachi registry, Advocate Malik first offered his condolences on the demise of a relative of presiding judge Justice Alam and then requested the court to adjourn the proceedings till Tuesday next week in view of the annual elections of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), saying he was embarrassed to make such a request.
Justice Alam, however, observed that he had specially come to the court despite his family commitments in view of the consideration that many counsel would have come to argue the matter.
“Is there any other difficulty to proceed with the case or is election the only reason?” Justice Alam asked.
Makhdoom Ali Khan, who is representing a number of CNG stations, stated that it was in the hands of the court no matter whatever decision was made.
When the court asked Attorney General (AG) Anwar Mansoor whether he had any objection if the proceedings were adjourned, he replied that it did not really matter whether the hearing was postponed or the court chose to proceed with the matter.
However, he made it clear that he would be presenting the government’s stance in the cases relating to GIDC even if he was not present in the courtroom as someone would be taking notes for the government to explain the position.
The court, however, observed that it would not mention the SCBA elections as the reason for the adjournment of the case rather cite in its order personal reason of the counsel for the postponement of the case.
On Oct 22, the court had summoned all pending cases relating to GIDC from different high courts of the country and directed the lawyers pleading the cases of different clients to join the proceedings before the apex court if they chose so at the principal seat or join through video link.
On Sept 6, the federal government through the AG had furnished a request before the apex court for out-of-turn hearing of the pending GIDC cases after Prime Minister Imran Khan withdrew the GIDC (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019, and directed the AG to move an application for urgent hearing in the Supreme Court so that the matter could be decided at the earliest, strictly in accordance with the law and the Constitution.
The matter regarding GIDC gained attention when the present government promulgated a controversial ordinance with an offer to grant Rs210 billion financial amnesty to big businesses, including fertiliser, general industry, IPPs, generation companies, K-Electric and CNG sector.
A statement issued by the PM Office had conceded that from January 2012 till December 2018, the total amount stuck in the GIDC litigation had risen to Rs417bn. The government’s application before the Supreme Court had stated that the cases relating to the GIDC Act 2015 involved huge sums of government revenue.
The matter had been pending since 2017 and petitions had been filed against the judgement passed by the Peshawar High Court upholding the vires of the law, the application contended. “Due to the fact that a huge quantum of government revenue is stuck up on account of the present cases, it is, therefore, prayed that the court may take up the cases out of turn,” the application contended.