Cess bill can be amended after submission of CCI policy: SC

Apex court adjourns GIDC case for one week

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Staff Report

ISLAMABAD

The Supreme Court on Thursday adjourned hearing of the Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC) case for one week.

A three-member bench of the court headed by Justice Mushir Alam and comprising Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Mansoor Ali Shah heard the case.

During the course of proceedings, Advocate Makhdoom Ali Khan counsel for a private gas company said that Parliament could not bypass the Council of Common Interest.

Justice Mansoor Ali Shah said that the council of common interest had authority to legislate. After deciding on the policy, the Council sent the matter to Parliament for legislation, he added.

The counsel said that the provinces had the opportunity to present their position before the Council of Common Interest.

Justice Faisal Arab said that a forum of CCI was established for consensus so that there should be no dispute in the provinces on any issue.

The counsel said that the CCI was completely ignored for imposition of levi tax.

Justice Mansoor Ali Shah said that the CCI was a great forum. The CCI meetings sometimes did not held due to different reasons, he added.

He observed that there was no council policy on GIDC.

The counsel said that the GIDC case had never been presented before  the CCI.

Justice Faisal Arab said that the government could ask the CCI to consider the matter after passing GIDC bill. The cess bill can be amended after submission of CCI policy, he added.

The counsel said that the council can say that no levy can be imposed on natural gas.

Justice Mushir Alam asked the counsel whether levy is a tax or fee.

He said that the matter will be referred to the Chief Justice, if a larger bench is required.

Justice Mansoor Ali Shah asked why levy is not a fee. Justice Faisal Arab said that levy can be called service fee. Whoever uses it will pay a levy fee, he added.

The counsel said that the government is saying that the fee will be paid on the service of natural gas in future. This cess is not for domestic users, he added.

Justice Faisal Arab said that the government would have to import gas over it’s short and pipelines would have to be established for import of natural gas.