Seems like someone in Mumbai is controlling electricity supply to Karachi: chief justice

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Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Gulzar Ahmed on Tuesday slammed K-Electric for its failure to supply electricity to the city, going so far as to remark that “people in Mumbai” seemed to be determining “who will get how much electricity in Karachi”.

“It seems that who will get how much electricity in Karachi is being controlled [by  someone in] Mumbai,” the CJP remarked while hearing a suo motu case on unannounced loadshedding in Sindh.

The CJP, who is presiding over a three-member bench, made the observation while questioning the ownership of the electric supply company.

“Who is the real owner of K-Electric?” asked CJP Gulzar.

To this, the counsel for the power supply company, Ali Zafar, informed the court that the company has nine directors and that it is being run as a joint venture between Saudi and Kuwaiti business groups.

“There will be more groups behind these groups and the [ownership of this] company will eventually turn up in Mumbai,” remarked the CJP.

Zafar in response told the court that it was incorrect to say that the company was owned by someone in Mumbai.

“But this is what we have heard — that someone from Mumbai will eventually come out [as the actual owner]. I have heard that there is a man named Sharma,” remarked the chief justice.

He added that if the company had been loyal to the country, Karachi “would not have been like this”.

We have reservations regarding the investors

The CJP said half of Karachi spends the night awake due to power outages, noting that a heatwave is about to hit Karachi and people do not have any electricity.

“When the company is being controlled in Mumbai, this will happen,” he remarked.

To this, KE’s lawyer objected saying that reports regarding shareholders being from Mumbai were “incorrect”.

“We have read this in the newspaper, we do not know the source [of the report],” CJP Gulzar told the lawyer.

The CJP was again told that there was “no such thing” and that the shareholders had security clearance.

“Corporate affairs are complicated, someone else is on the front and someone else behind [it],” insisted the top judge.

“We have our reservations about the investors in K-Electric. Who are the nine shareholders who want to be party [to the case]?” asked CJP Gulzar.

He also asked who KE Chairman Shan Ashary was.

Upon hearing his name mentioned, Ashary intervened and told the CJP that his full name was Shan Abbas Ashary. He also told the court that he was a Pakistani and asked that his loyalty to Pakistan not be brought into question.

“If you were loyal to Pakistan, the situation of K-Electric and the people of Pakistan would not be like this,” the CJP said in response to Ashary’s statement.

The KE chairman told the court that $400 million were invested into KE by investors from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

“This story will not end here; there is someone else behind them. It seems that the ownership of this company will finally emerge from Mumbai,” the CJP insisted.

NEPRA questioned for not providing electricity

Earlier, at the start of the hearing, the court had asked the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) why it was not providing 900 megawatts of electricity to the power supply company as per its request.

“What did NEPRA do to add 900MW to the system?” asked Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan.

To this, the court was informed by the NEPRA chairman that KE itself had taken a stay against the application.

The NEPRA chairman conceded that handing over power generation, distribution and other components of the electricity supply chain to K Electric had been “a mistake”.

“If you are creating an atmosphere for competition, make agreements that are in favor of the government,” observed Justice Faisal Arab in response to the chairman’s comments.

He added that the Reko Diq agreement was an example for the country.

Meanwhile, CJP Gulzar wondered why Shanghai Electric would want to invest in K-Electric when it is in such a bad situation. The attorney general told the court that Shanghai Electric remained interested in taking over the utility.

“If Shanghai Electric takes over, they will have their own conditions. Then there will be a state within a state,” observed CJP Gulzar.

He added that every institution in Karachi was in a shambles and no one was being provided any service.

The court then asked the government to form a tribunal and asked it to submit a report on K-Electric within two weeks.

SC hints at imposing heavy fines on KE

During the hearing, the CJP also observed that KE was a defaulter and hinted at imposing a heavy fine on the power supply company for its failure to provide uninterrupted electricity, which it termed a basic right.

To this, the KE lawyer told the court that the supply had been affected in June and July as there had been a shortage of fuel provided to the utility company.

Upon hearing this, the CJP diverted his attention to the attorney general, observing that government departments were in a very bad state.

The CJP remarked that earlier, there was a single power division which has now been divided into 10 different “pieces”.

He added that instead of a single secretary, 25 people with a 22 grade rank had placed to look after affairs.

“This is the situation of every government institution, not just K-Electric,” observed CJP Gulzar.

“If the situation remains like this, the entire country will eventually be sitting without electricity,” he warned.