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LAHORE: Lahore High Court Chief Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan on Tuesday suggested the National Assembly speaker to constitute a committee of parliamentarians from both sides treasury and the opposition to hold a probe into the recent shortage of petrol in country.

CJ Khan asked Attorney General Khalid Javed Khan to discuss the court's suggestion with the speaker. He observed that the court wanted the parliament to do this job on its own, otherwise, the law will take its course and no official, if found guilty, would be spared. The chief justice directed the attorney general to assist the court on next hearing, if speaker did not form a committee, whether a commission under code of criminal procedure would be appropriate to hold investigation into the fuel crisis.

The chief justice was hearing a petition seeking action against the authorities concerned for their alleged failure to control shortage of petrol.

At the outset of the hearing, counsel of the petitioner sought court's permission to withdraw the petition saying there was no more shortage of petrol in the country.

However, Chief Justice Khan turned down the request. AGP Khan filed an application on behalf of Principal Secretary to the prime minister Azam Khan for one time exemption from personal appearance. The CJ expressed his dismay saying it seemed that the principal secretary should be summoned through arrest warrant. The attorney general said the principal secretary could not appear due to meeting of federal cabinet. Referring to the principal secretary, Chief Justice Khan observed, "It is heard that law comes out of his mouth when he speaks. If this is the case, let's talk to him and see."

The chief justice noted that the secretary will not be given exemption if the attorney general did not appear before the court.

He also questioned the manner in which prices of petroleum products had been increased suddenly before the end of month.

"How much you benefited the oil marketing companies by increasing prices?" the chief justice asked the attorney general and also directed him to apprise the court on next hearing about the capacity of the companies.

Assisting the court, Advocate Awais Khalid, the amicus curiae, stated that the ministry of petroleum and Oil & Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) were responsible to regulate import and storage of petrol in view of the country's demand. He said the ministry, Ogra, oil companies and the people were real stakeholders in the matter.

The CJ directed Ogra's chairperson Uzma Adil to deposit Rs100,000 as donation with the hospital of Lahore High Bar Association. She was fined for not appearing before the court on last hearing. On Tuesday, she requested the court to convert the fine into donation, which the chief justice accepted. The hearing was adjourned till July 9.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020