SHC directs appellant to submit court fee in 161 appeals

KARACHI: An appellate bench of High Court of Sindh (SHC) comprising Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi and Justice Abdul Malik Gaddi on Tuesday adjourned hearing of identical 162 appeals filed by Sui Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGCL) ordered the appellant to file court fee in remaining 161 appeals.

The bench earlier heard Asim Iqbal advocate, counsel for appellant  who maintained that the appeal have arisen out of a consolidated judgment rendered by single judge of SHC, Justice Shafi Siddiqui. The single judge allowing the suits filed by defendants/plaintiff including Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources, Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority, Cement, Fertilizer, Textile industry, CNG stations and other commercial users numbering 1418 held that OGRA is required to issue notification regarding gar prices within a reasonable time. The court also held that no time limit is given in law for issuance of such notification. SSGCL impugned this judgment in the instant appeal.

When the appeal came up for hearing the counsel for defendants opposed the hearing of an interim application raising technical grounds. They said that it was a single appeal while there must have been 161 appeals. They also raised the issue of non-payment of court fee in each and every suit. Some of the defendants also raised the issue of limitation that appeals would be time barred.

The counsel for SSGCL citing an order passed by the Chief Justice of the SHC deciding the objections raised by the office against single consolidated appeal and said that single appeal is enough while he conceded to submit court fee of rupees 15000 in each appeal amounts to rupees 3.6 million. He prayed to the court to hear and pass an interim order on ground that plaintiff is purchasing gas at higher rate and supplying at lower rates sustaining huge losses due to inability of OGRA is issuing price notification on time.

The bench however declined any interim relief and adjourned hearing till Sept 21 while plaintiff was given a chance to submit the court fee as required under CPC (Civil Procedure Code). According to the plaintiff the issue involve mixing of imported gas attracting taxes which increases price of gas purchased by the plaintiff.

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