Court: (IHC issues notice on over charging of electricity bills)

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday issued notices to Secretary Cabinet Division, Ministry of Water and Power and 11 power distribution companies (DISCOs) in a civil miscellaneous (CM) regarding over charging of electricity bills from consumers.

A single-judge bench comprising Justice Athar Minallah heard the CM filed by Advocate Abdul Rehman S Alvi, pleading the court to make him party in a case filed by top brass of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) including Asad Umar, Arif Alvi and Shireen Mazari.

The petitioners alleged that National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) and Discos were overcharging from consumers every month to maximise their revenues and pleaded the court to take legal action against the authorities involved in over billing.

During the proceedings, Advocate Abdul Rehman S Alvi argued before the court that a cabinet committee had been formed by the prime minister to overview the matter and subsequently the committee has made recommendations.

He further argued that the said bench already directed the federal government to provide relief to electricity consumers, who had been over charged by the DISCOs during the particular period of time, however, the government has not given any relief to electricity consumers.

He said government had not even made the cabinet committee’s recommendations public, and prayed to pass orders to make them public.

The bench after hearing the arguments accepted the petition for hearing and issued notices to all respondents, directing them to submit reply on the matter. Later, the court adjourned the proceeding of the matter for indefinite period.

Earlier, the court had barred power distribution companies (DISCOs) from collecting additional charges on electricity tariff during the hearing of this petition.

The PTI maintained in its petition had stated that NEPRA and Discos have been issuing inflated bills every month that is unjustified and especially, Discos have charged excessive bill for the month of August and September 2014 without prior information and legal justification.

However, Ministry of Water and Power told the court that electricity consumers have not been overcharged during July, 2014. The ministry further told the court that excessive use of electricity due to low load shedding during the holy month of Ramazan and removal of subsidy on electricity by the government, were the reasons behind increase in electricity bills in the month. Besides, a report of power distribution companies (DISCOs) was also submitted to the court which stated that consumers’ complaints about overbilling have been resolved.

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