Karachi: Police restrained from arresting KESC chief
KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Wednesday ordered that the chief executive officer of the Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) be not arrested till December 3 under a warrant issued against him by the Senate’s standing committee on water and power for his failure to appear before the committee. The interim order came on a petition filed by KESC CEO Tabish Gohar against the arrest warrant issued by the standing committee for not appearing at consecutive proceedings. The petitioner impugned rules 166(4) and 187 (4) of the procedures and conduct of business in the Senate “being ultra vires of the Constitution of Pakistan”, and submitted that examining matters extraneous to the authority, powers and functions of the Senate was beyond the delegated legislative authority of the committee.
His counsel, Abid S Zuberi, submitted that the KESC was not an attached corporation or the public body which may come in the purview of the exercise of purported authority by the committee in the matter it had taken up.
He said that in terms of Article 70 the Senate performs legislative functions which include the introduction of bills, transmission to the National Assembly with or without amendments and financial powers in terms of articles 78 and 88 of the Constitution.
To a court query with regard to rule 187 (4) which confers power of civil court to procure attendance of a witness, the counsel submitted that Senate could not assume such judicial functions and authority when such powers in terms of Article 66 (3) were to be regulated by the law and or subject to law.
He said that since no law was in the field, the Senate was not empowered through the delegated authority to frame rules of procedures to perform the functions of legislating or assuming itself such judicial functions without promulgated or framing any statute providing for punishment to a person.
In this context, the counsel placed reliance on Article 6 (3) of the Constitution whereby parliament by the law could give punishment to a person found guilty of high treason under the High Treason (punishment) Act. He prayed to the court to declare rules 166(4) and 187(4) of Rules of the Procedure and conduct of business as ultra vires of the Constitution and set aside the arrest warrant against the KESC CEO.
A division bench, headed by Chief Justice Mushir Alam, observed that since serious question of constitutional interpretation, the application of the judicial authority by parliament itself had been raised, and issued notices to the secretary of the water and power ministry, the Senate secretary, the IGP and the home secretary for November 30.
On an application against the arrest warrant issued by the Senate committee, the counsel said that petitioner was CEO KESC, who ran and managed the entire operation of the power utility and in case he was arrested it would cause a serious setback for the functioning and performance of the power utility.
The counsel said the entire senior management of the KESC, despite all reservations, regularly attended proceedings and placed all material before the Senate committee as and when required or demanded by the committee. He said that the CEO was being summoned on account of political victimisation and his personal appearance was sought in a manner that may cause serious harm and injury to his reputation and functioning of the KESC.
He undertook before the court that if at all the court came to the conclusion that the petitioner was required to appear before the Standing committee he would appear before the court on December 3, the date fixed by the standing committee for the next hearing. Keeping in view the undertaking, the court observed that Gauhar may not be arrested till December 3.