Fuel price hike case may ‘shake’ govt, warns LHC

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LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tuesday observed that the fuel price hike case could deal a blow to the federal government, and issued directions to the commission probing into the matter to complete its investigation by December 02.

Hearing a petition against the increase in fuel prices, the LHC Chief Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan ordered the commission to submit at least 25 to 30 copies of the inquiry report at the next hearing after completing it.

“If the probe is not completed by the next hearing, the court will conduct an investigation itself,” the judge remarked. “This case will shake your government,” he added. According to local media reports, the LHC chief justice expressed annoyance over use of “delaying tactics” on an adjournment request filed on behalf of Pak Arab Refinery Ltd (Parco) counsel Sheikh Anwarul Haq as he was reportedly busy in proceedings at the Islamabad High Court. The judge added that he would personally summon all those named in the case.

Additional Attorney General Chaudhry Ishtiaq A Khan, who appeared on behalf of the federal government, informed the court that the commission had sought six to eight weeks to complete the probe.

“In four weeks, we will complete the investigation,” the AAG said. “The investigation has to be completed considering the judicial terms of reference,” he added. “We want the implementation of the report.”

The LHC chief justice noted that the government would again seek more time to consult the prime minister or for other reasons. “I am giving 28 days.” the judge said. “If you cannot complete the investigation, the court will conduct its own one.”

The petitioner has contended that the prices of petroleum products were increased without the approval of the cabinet and the rules and regulations in place were not followed.

“Oil prices are falling in the world market, but prices in Pakistan have risen sharply,” he argued. “It is the responsibility of the government to provide relief to the people but it was not fulfilling it.”

The petitioner asked the court to issue a restraining order against the price hike of petroleum products and annul the notification. In June this year, the federal government increased the price of petrol by Rs25.58 per litre, high speed diesel byRs21.31, kerosene by Rs23.50 and light diesel by Rs17.84 per litre for the month of July in line with the hike in global crude oil prices. According to a notification issued by the Finance Division, the price of petrol was increased from Rs74.52 to Rs100.10 per litre. The price hike was preceded by a fuel shortage across the country, and on June 30, the PTI government announced the formation of an inquiry committee to investigate the crisis on the directives of Prime Minister Imran. The committee was tasked with presenting its findings before the prime minister by July 10.

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