SC to take up GIDC case on Sept 19


ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) will take up the long pending Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC) case on September 19, after the federal government approached the apex court on sept 5, for early hearing of the case.

The government had approached the SC over the GIDC a day after it withdrew – amid harsh criticism by various circles – a presidential ordinance introduced in last days of August to waive over Rs300 billion GIDC outstanding against a handful of industries and businesses.

While withdrawing the ordinance, Prime Minister Imran Khan had directed the AGP to move an application for an urgent hearing of the case in the Supreme Court, “so that the matter could be decided at the earliest in accordance with the law and the Constitution”.

A statement from the PM Office said the ordinance was issued with a view to recover 50% of the stuck revenue by way of an out-of-court settlement after consultation with the industry.

“However, in view of the recent controversy, the prime minister, in the interest of transparency and good governance, has decided to withdraw the ordinance,” it said.

The GIDC was levied in 2011 by then federal government by enacting the GIDC Act 2011.

Its objective was to gather fund for different energy projects, including the Iran-Pakistan (IP) Gas Pipelines Project, the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (Tapi) Pipelines Project, the LNG Import Project and the LPG Supply Enhancement Project.

The GIDC was declared unconstitutional by the Peshawar High Court (PHC) on June 13, 2013, and the judgement was also upheld by the Supreme Court on Aug 22, 2014. Later on, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) led government brought a new legislation on this issue in 2015. It was also challenged in the PHC and the SHC.

In 2016, the SHC while exercising civil suit jurisdiction declared the GIDC as ultra vires of the Constitution but in May 2017, the PHC held that GIDC was legal.

Meanwhile, the aggrieved companies approached the SC against the PHC order.

In August, 2017, a three-judge bench of apex court led by former chief justice Mian Saqib Nisar took up the matter wherein renowned lawyer Khalid Anwar appeared before the court. The SC granted leave to appeal against the PHC verdict. Despite passage of two years, the matter is still pending decision.