Those responsible for fuel crisis will not get scot-free: LHC

June 30, 2020

LAHORE : The Lahore High Court (LHC) proposed on Tuesday that a parliamentary committee comprising members of the government as well as the opposition be constituted to probe the recent shortage of petroleum products in the country. A bench of the high court, headed by Chief Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan, cleared that the law will take its course if National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser does not form the committee that, the court said, will carry out a probe into the matter within 15 days of its constitution. The chief justice expressed displeasure over the absence of the prime minister’s principal secretary from today’s hearing, saying it appears that he will have to be hauled up by issuance of arrest warrants. He asked how much profit did oil companies pocket when prices of petroleum products were jacked up before even completion of one month. He also inquired about storage capacity of oil firms. The top LHC judge remarked that this was a major crisis that the country faced, stressing a need for a transparent investigation into the matter. “Those responsible will not be able to get scot-free,” he said. He further directed that a report on the fuel crisis and hike in prices of petroleum products be presented in Parliament. The LHC has asked the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority on the steps it plans to take if a fuel shortage occurs in the future. Justice Khan asked what does OGRA do if any company does not have the stock for 21 days. “Is there a policy on this? If there is one, then what is this?” Many companies keep the stock for 14 to 15 days but never think about strategic storage. The recent increase in prices has benefitted the oil companies. The OGRA chairperson, Punjab home secretary, petroleum secretary have all submitted their replies in the case. “Only the PM’s principal secretary didn’t appear in court,” remarked the judge. “Why not?” He wants to twist the documents which is why he isn’t coming to the court, the judge added. The bench imposed a fine of Rs100,000 on OGRA chairperson Uzma Adil and directed her to pay the amount to the LHC Bar Association’s hospital. The OGRA chairperson also submitted the amount to the dispensary of the Bar Association over her failure to appear in court at the last hearing. The hearing was adjourned until July 9.

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