SC set up Special Bench for settlement of GIDC dues

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Special Report

ISLAMABAD: A three-member special bench of the Supreme Court will start hearing 107 pending petitions regarding Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC) levy from Sept 19.

The bench headed by Justice Mushir Alam and comprising Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Mansoor Ali Shah will take the cases of textile mills, cotton mills, sugar mills, ceramics companies, chemicals, CNG filing stations, Match factories, cement companies and aluminum industries , which have been pending since 2017.

Attorney General for Pakistan Anwar Mansoor Khan on behalf of the federal government on September 6 had filed an application requesting the Supreme Court for hearing out-of-turn pending cases regarding the Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC) levy.

The PHC on May 31, 2017 had rejected a set of petitions challenging the validity of the GIDC Act 2015 on the grounds that the transgression of legislative authority by the federation does not qualify as a breach of fundamental rights of citizens and therefore the petitioners before the high court were not aggrieved persons within the meaning of Article 199 of the Constitution and thus have no locus standi to challenge the validity of the act.

The PHC in its judgement had also held that when Article 142 (a) read with Article 154 of the Constitution, it became evident that the parliament had the exclusive authority to legislate on Entries in Part II of the Federal Legislative List of the Constitution.

Earlier, the GIDC Act was approved by the National Assembly in December 2011 imposing cess on gas consumers, other than the domestic sector, to develop infrastructure for a number of projects including Iran-Pakistan Pipeline Project, Turkmenistan Afghanistan Pakistan India (TAPI) Pipeline Project and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project and for price equalization of imported alternative fuels including LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas).
In April 15, 2015, the apex court rejected the federal government’s petition seeking review of its Aug 22, 2014 verdict and clarify that the collection of then over Rs100 billion under GIDC Act was not liable to be refunded to the industrial consumers of gas from whom it was recovered. The then GIDC law had legalised the cess recovery from the non-domestic consumers, mainly industries.

Later, on the expiry of the GIDC ordinance, the National Assembly and Senate passed the GIDC Act 2015 and repealed the GIDC Act 2011.

The GIDC controversy gained attention when the government promulgated GIDC (Amendment) Ordinance 2019 in the first week of September with an offer to grant Rs210bn financial amnesty to big businesses including fertiliser, general industry, power generation companies, K-Electric and CNG sector. However, due to the pressure of opposition parities and the media withdraw on September 6.
Attorney General for Pakistan Anwar Mansoor Khan on September had filed an application before the apex court stating that the cases relating to the GIDC Act 2015 involved huge sums of government revenue. It stated the matter had been pending since 2017 and petitions had been filed against the Peshawar High Court (PHC) judgement upholding the vires of the law. As a huge quantum of government revenue was stuck on account of the cases, the court was requested to take up the cases out of turn, the application contended.
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