Govt to amend OGRA Ordinance

The government has decided to establish an appellate tribunal by amending the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) Ordinance 2002 in order to give provinces representation in dealing with disputes in the oil and gas sector.

The tribunal will comprise members from provinces, will work as a court and will have powers as vested in such a court under the Code of Civil Procedure.

It will have powers to enforce the attendance of any person and examine him on oath, and compel the production of documents.

It will issue orders for the examination of documents and witnesses. No other court shall issue injunction, make any order or entertain any proceedings in respect of any matter to which the jurisdiction of appellate tribunal extends.

In relation to any decision of the authority concerning a regulated activity, the appellate tribunal will be able to direct the authority to refrain from doing anything not permitted by law to do or to do anything the authority is required by law to do or declare that the act or proceedings by the authority has been done or taken without lawful authority and is of no legal effect.

Sources told The Express Tribune that provinces, especially Sindh, had pressed the federal government to give them representation in Ogra following the model of National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra).

In Nepra, the provinces have due representation but there is no representation of provinces in the oil and gas regulator – Ogra.

Following the demand of provinces, the government has decided to establish an appellate tribunal that will comprise members from all provinces to deal with affairs of the oil and gas sector.

The government will introduce a bill in parliament to approve the Ogra (Amendment) Act 2021.

The federal government will, by notification in the official gazette, establish the appellate tribunal for the purpose of exercising powers vested to the tribunal under this ordinance.

Composition of tribunal

The tribunal will consist of a chairperson, member (technical), member (finance), member (legal) to be appointed by the federal government and four other members representing the four provinces to be nominated by the respective provinces.

The federal government will appoint the chairperson and other members of the tribunal from amongst persons of eminence in the oil and natural gas industry, finance and law with at least 20 years of experience.

No chairperson or member shall be removed from office unless the federal government, after holding an inquiry by a committee constituted for the purpose and in accordance with such procedure as may be prescribed in this regard, is satisfied that such person ought on such ground or grounds to be removed.

Decisions, orders and quorum

Decisions of the appellate tribunal will be taken by the majority of members present and voting, and in the event of equality of votes, the chairperson or in his absence, the person presiding will have a second or casting vote.

Secondly, all orders and decisions of the appellate tribunal shall be authenticated by the registrar or any other officer of the authority duly authorised by the chairperson.

Thirdly, if there are less than five members of the appellate tribunal, the presence of four members serving shall constitute a quorum. Any decision taken in a meeting where the quorum is present will constitute a valid and enforceable decision. If the position of a member becomes vacant, the federal government shall fill the vacancy in the appellate tribunal within a period of three months from the date such vacancy occurs.

Appellate procedures

Any person aggrieved by a decision or order of the authority under Section 13 may, within 30 days of the decision or order, prefer an appeal to the appellate tribunal in the prescribed manner and the appellate tribunal will decide such appeal within three months after the filing of the appeal.

The decision of the appellate tribunal will be in writing, detailing the issues raised in the appeal and the arguments adopted by the appellant and the authority, as the case may be.

“The tribunal shall also provide reasons for reaching its decision with reference to every case in which, on application under sub-section (2), the appellate tribunal has made an interim order shall be disposed of by the appellate tribunal on merits within six months from the day on which it is made, unless the appellate tribunal is prevented from doing so for sufficient grounds to be recorded.”

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