Saturday Jun 26, 2021
LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Friday ordered the government to take steps for the recovery of illegal gains oil marketing companies (OMCs) made by creating an artificial shortage during 2020.
Announcing a judgement on several public interest petitions, LHC Chief Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan ordered the government to form a committee for the recovery of unlawful gains from OMCs.
The LHC was seized with a case about petrol shortage in the country in June 2020 after petrol prices dropped sharply and oil companies attempted to record inventory losses.
The verdict, authored by the LHC CJ, directed to take steps for the audit of all OMCs, and in light of such an audit report, if required, a committee or subcommittee shall be constituted to examine the existing rules and regulations which, given the facts and circumstances, may propose amendments or new legislation.
The judgement further said the federal government must complete legal action against those found responsible for creating an artificial shortage.
The LHC also directed the authorities to ensure that strategic storage was preserved in all eventualities.
On July 28, 2020, the federal government had constituted a commission that conducted a probe while taking all stakeholders on board.
The verdict directed the federal government to ensure the release of the report of the commission immediately.
The government was directed to submit a compliance report within three months to LHC's additional registrar (judicial).
The chief justice ordered the chief secretaries of the respective provincial governments to take effective steps to empower the district administration to deal with such a situation.
On March 26, Prime Minister Imran Khan had directed his Special Assistant on Petroleum Nadeem Babar to step down and suspended the secretary petroleum for 90 days until the FIA finished its forensic probe to identify those responsible for the countrywide fuel shortage.
The prime minister had taken the action on the recommendations of a ministerial committee.
“The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had been given the mandate to undertake forensic investigations within the next 90 days and initiate criminal proceedings against those responsible for the shortage and put them behind bars with handcuffs,” Federal Minister for Planning Asad Umar had said while announcing the decisions taken by the government.
“Till this investigation is accomplished, Special Assistant to the PM on Petroleum Nadeem Babar has been asked to step down, while Secretary Petroleum has been instructed to report to the Establishment Division.”