SHC issues notices to Nepra, KE on plea against overbilling, FAC

The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Tuesday issued notices to the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra), K-Electric and others on the Jamaat-e-Islami’s petition against “illegal” load-shedding, lack of power generation and collection of different taxes by KE from its consumers through the electricity bills.

JI Karachi chief Hafiz Naeemur Rehman and others said KE has failed to discharge its duty for providing uninterrupted electricity to the city’s residents. They said that the right to have electricity is an essential component of the right to life enshrined in the constitution.

They pointed out the lack of an independent mechanism to check if the electricity meters installed by KE provide the correct reading because only the power utility’s staff reads the meters.

They said KE has been charging almost double the electricity charges by including different taxes, because of which the bills of the original price of electricity consumed have been doubled.

The petitioners said the power utility has failed to stop load-shedding in the city, so the residents have been facing two to three hours of power cuts during night and day timings on a daily basis.

They said KE is also collecting charges in the name of fuel adjustment from its consumers without any forensic audit of fuel consumption, adding that KE has been extorting a big amount of money with the permission of Nepra in the name of fuel adjustment charges (FAC) by misleading the authority on account of consumption and purchase of fuel. They stressed that KE has failed to perform and fulfil its obligations in accordance with its agreement, saying that the federal government should cancel KE’s licence and take over the power utility.

The petitioners’ counsel Usman Farooq said that in an identical matter about fuel price adjustment, the Lahore High Court had directed the local power utility to issue revised bills to its consumers without the amount of fuel price adjustment. He undertook to place on record the copy of the court order to advance his case.

The petitioners requested the SHC to conduct a forensic audit of KE’s finances and restrain it from carrying out unannounced load-shedding in the city, especially during the night. They also sought an injunction against overbilling in the name of FAC, and tax collection through power bills in the name of sales tax, general sales tax and TV licence fees.

After the preliminary hearing of the petition, an SHC division bench headed by Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi issued notices to Nepra, KE and others, calling for their comments to be filed on September 9. The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Tuesday asked the counsel of the petitioner who sought lifting the ban on telecasting speeches of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) founder to argue on the maintainability of the petition.

Petitioner Nisar Ahmed, who has served as MQM MNA and MPA from Karachi, claimed that the federal government and the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority misinterpreted MQM founder’s political speeches and banned him from participating in politics, as well as banned telecasting his speeches in mainstream media.

Ahmed stressed that the MQM chief had not violated any provision of the law, and had not taken part in any act against the integrity, solidarity and sovereignty of the country. He requested the court to allow him to participate in politics and social welfare activities for the betterment of the people, pointing out that the MQM chief had time and again apologised to everyone concerned regarding any misinterpretation of his speeches.

The counsel of the petitioner also informed the court that the petitioner has been taken away by personnel of law enforcement agencies, pointing out that the court should take notice of the incident.

After the preliminary hearing of the petition, an SHC division bench headed by Chief Justice Ahmed Ali M Sheikh directed the counsel to argue on the maintainability of the petition, and adjourned the hearing.

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