Court rejects OMC’s plea to stop FIA probe in fuel crisis case

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) rejected on Tuesday an oil marketing company’s plea to stop the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) from taking action against it in the fuel crisis case.

Hearing the petition filed by Attock Petroleum, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah issued notices to the Ministry of Energy, Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra), the government’s recently formed fuel crisis committee and the FIA for June 25.

The petitioner’s lawyer maintained that the government had not set up the inquiry commission under the Petroleum Products Inquiry Act.

To this Justice Minallah replied that it wasn’t necessary for the government to set up an inquiry commission under the Inquiry Act. “The government has certain responsibilities and is answerable to the people,” he said. “If there is a disruption in fuel supply, the executive has the power to order an inquiry.”

The IHC chief justice asked the petitioner to satisfy the court at the next hearing over why should it interfere in the powers of the executive.

The high court also rejected a verbal request for restraining the government from taking action against the oil company.

The petitioner’s counsel prayed to the court to issue a restraining order till the the next hearing, arguing that a showcase notice was issued to the petitioner.

In response to the request, the high court chief justice stated that a similar petition was also pending in which a restraining order was not issued. The IHC CJ further issued notices on the restraining order plea, saying this petition will be heard along with the other one.

On June 18, the oil marketing company (OMC) moved the IHC against the newly formed fuel crisis committee and the ongoing crackdown against OMCs allegedly responsible for a recent fuel crisis. It has nominated Ogra, the Pakistan State Oil (PSO), Ministry of Petroleum, FIA and the committee as respondents.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had one the same day (June 18) ordered action against nine OMCs, including cancellation of their licences and the arrest of their officials after an inquiry body found them involved in deliberately creating a petrol shortage in the country by hoarding fuel.

The fuel crisis committee, formed earlier this month in the wake of petrol becoming unavailable at filling stations after the government slashed its price, submitted its preliminary report to the premier.

According to documents available with The Express Tribune, the eight-member body headed by Director General Oil Shafiur Rehman Afridi and also comprising Petroleum Division officials blamed nine OMCs for the crisis – Shell Pakistan, Total Parco Pakistan, Attock Petroleum, Attock Oil Pakistan, Byco, Gas and Oil Pakistan, Hascol Petroleum, Puma Energy and Be Energy (formerly Bakri Energy).

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