Sindh govt ordered to pay electricity dues of KMC to KE

KARACHI: The Supreme Court on Friday directed the Sindh government to pay the outstanding electricity dues of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) to K-Electric. A two-judge bench of the apex court comprising Justice Maqbool Baqar and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah asked the provincial government to pay the dues, said to be around Rs580 million, to the power utility in five months in as many instalments. However, the bench ruled that the KMC would pay its electricity bills from April and restrained the KE from disconnecting the power supply of the municipal authority. The apex court says that Karachi has been generating funds for the country and can’t be compared with other areas The bench stated that officials of the provincial and city governments would decide after consultation whether the outstanding dues, to be paid by the Sindh government, would be treated as a loan, grant or subject to adjustment. The bench issued these directives on a petition of the KMC, which approached the apex court with a plea to restrain K-Electric from disconnecting the power supply of its offices over non-payment of dues after the Sindh High Court had dismissed an identical plea of the city’s municipal administration. When the matter came up for hearing before the bench at the Supreme Court’s Karachi registry on Friday, the officials of the provincial government, Mayor Wasim Akhtar and representatives of KE were in attendance. Justice Shah asked the advocate general that the people of Karachi may suffer due to their political tussle. He added that the provincial government had already taken over some important departments from the KMC. Justice Baqar remarked that the provincial authorities should not take the court lightly for being lenient and asked the provincial government to pay the electricity dues or the court may consider examining the powers and authority of the Sindh government and the KMC. The bench also questioned under which law the revenue-generating departments had been taken from the KMC. The local government secretary contended that a precedent will be set for other district councils as well if the Sindh government provided funds to the KMC on the account of electricity dues. Justice Shah asked the secretary not to compare the provincial metropolis with other areas since it was a unique city and had been generating revenue for the whole country. Mayor Akhtar again informed the bench that the KMC could not pay the outstanding electricity dues as it did not have enough funds to pay salaries to its employees. He stated that charged parking, property, licence fee and other revenue-generating departments had already been taken from the KMC. He said that KE was also not paying its outstanding dues to the KMC. The lawyer for the power utility requested the court to issue a directive for payment of its dues, which he said exceeded Rs580m. He said that KE was also facing financial issues. Earlier, the KMC had petitioned the SHC after KE had disconnected power supply to one of its parks for non-payment of dues. However, the high court had dismissed the plea of the KMC in January and told it to pay the dues. Thereafter, the KMC approached the SC as it said that the power utility also disconnected power supply to its head office and other offices for non-payment of dues. Published in Dawn, April 13th, 2019

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