IHC rejects OMC's petition, fuel crisis inquiry given green light.

 
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ISLAMABAD -- The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday rejected a petition by oil marketing companies (OMCs) against the newly formed fuel crisis committee.

A single bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice of IHC Justice Athar Minallah announced the verdict which it had reserved after hearing the arguments of all the parties in the petition challenging the fuel crisis committee and the ongoing crackdown against the OMCs allegedly responsible for a recent fuel crisis.

Justice Athar noted in his verdict that in case of the petitions in hand, a mere fact-finding inquiry/probe is being conducted by the concerned executive authorities to identify the factors which have led to acute fuel shortages and exposed the general public to extreme inconvenience and hardship. He added that the petitioner companies definitely have a pivotal role in ensuring uninterrupted fuel supply to the general public. It cannot be ruled out that hoarding or black marketing could be one of the factors that may have led to the crisis of fuel shortages.

The IHC CJ maintained, 'The executive authorities in the circumstances were indeed justified to take timely measures including initiation of a probe/inquiry in order to ascertain the factors that had led to the unprecedented crisis causing extreme hardship and inconvenience to the general public.'

According to the court order, there is no force in the argument of one of the learned counsels that probe/inquiry could only have been conducted under the Pakistan Commission of Inquiries Act, 2017. Accepting this argument will amount to denying to the executive branch of the state its prerogative to inquire or probe into matters of public importance in any manner as it deems appropriate.

'Conducting an inquiry or probe is definitely not an adverse action nor can by any stretch of the imagination amount to prejudicing the rights of those who may be called upon to give information. The constitution of a commission under the Act of 2017 is one of the many modes available to the executive authorities to inquire or probe into a matter of public importance. It is inherent in the functions/obligations and duties assigned to the executive authorities to probe or inquire into any matter of public importance which falls within its exclusive domain, said the court.

The IHC bench continued that taking away this prerogative will cripple the functioning of the Executive branch. The executive authorities will not be able to function nor discharge...

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