KE can’t collect utility charges via power bills, amicus curiae tells SHC – Pakistan

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KARACHI: Senior lawyer Munir A. Malik, who was appointed as an amicus curiae, on Tuesday knowledgeable the Sindh High Court that the federal government was required to comply with the contract guidelines and couldn’t nominate Ok-Electric to collect the Municipal Utility Charges and Taxes (MUCT) for the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) by means of electrical energy payments.

The senior lawyer submitted that underneath the related legal guidelines, the KE additionally might not use coercive powers to collect such tax.

“In reality, the provincial laws directing the disconnection of electrical energy on account of failure to pay MUCT would run afoul the availability of Article 143 of the Constitution,” he maintained.

Mr Malik made such submissions earlier than a two-decide bench headed by Justice Nadeem Akhtar throughout the listening to of a set of petitions filed final yr towards the provincial authorities’s transfer to outsource the gathering of the controversial charges to the KE.

Munir Malik says SLGA and Nepra Act don’t empower KE to disconnect provide of any tax defaulter; listening to adjourned to Jan 16

The senior lawyer argued that the notification dated Jan 21, 2022 to authorise the engagement of the KE to collect such a tax was issued by the provincial authorities in violation of the Sindh Local Government Contract Rules, 2001.

He submitted that the KE was not the one utility service suppliers within the provincial metropolis and being a couple of service suppliers the contract for the gathering of “earnings” must have been awarded within the method supplied within the contract guidelines.

Mr Malik was of the view that the power utility might not use its coercive powers underneath the Electricity
Act because the disconnection of power by a distributor was regulated by a federal legislation.

“Neither the Sindh Local Government Act, 2013 nor the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) Act 1997 or Consumer Service Manual authorise or empower KE to disconnect power connection on the account of failure of obligatory taxation,” he maintained.

The amicus curiae additionally submitted that the MUCT couldn’t have been revised besides upon earlier publication of the taxation proposal and within the method prescribed by the imposition guidelines.

The bench requested that the copy of the written synopsis filed by the amicus curiae be supplied to Karachi Mayor Murtaza Wahab, who was additionally current throughout Tuesday’s proceedings, in addition to to attorneys for different events.

By consent of the events involved, the bench adjourned the listening to until Jan 16 for additional arguments.

Jamaat-i-Islami-Karachi chief Hafiz Naeemur Rehman and others had petitioned the SHC citing the ministry of power (power division), Sindh chief secretary, native authorities secretary, metropolis administrator and KE as respondents.

In Sept final yr, the SHC by means of an interim order had restrained the power utility from accumulating MUCT by means of electrical energy payments and appointed former attorneys normal Mr Malik and Khalid Jawed Khan as amici curiae to help the court docket on the topic challenge and advance their opinion.

The petitioners had argued that after the approval of the then Sindh chief minister, the chief secretary had issued a notification on Jan 21 final yr permitting the provincial power division and KMC to interact KE for assortment of MUCT underneath the Sindh Local Government Act (SLGA), 2013, and in furtherance of this notification, the provincial authorities issued one other notification on April 12.

The maintained within the petitions that the MUCT was imposed within the mild of a decision, handed by the Karachi administrator, which was unlawful and with out following the availability of legislation.

They additionally contended that the power utility was “recognized for its poor efficiency, defective and overbilling and extortion of cash in several names and accounts and now MUCT has additionally been outsourced to the KE”.

They maintained that KE was a non-public firm and had a restricted licence for era, transmission and distribution of power solely and the settlement between ministry of power and KE had nothing about assortment of various charges and it couldn’t be indulged in assortment of taxes on behalf of the KMC.

Earlier this month, the City Council had handed a decision with majority vote permitting the KMC to interact the KE for assortment of the controversial charges via electrical energy payments.

Published in Dawn, December twentieth, 2023

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