The federal government requested the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday to allow the appointment of acting chairman of Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) to run the affairs of the regulator which has become dysfunctional in the absence of its head.
The post has been lying vacant since Feb 11 when the Cabinet Division sent Saeed Ahmed Khan on forced leave because of his alleged role in the fuel crisis that crippled parts of the country in January.
Saeed Khan, however, challenged the government’s decision in the IHC. On March 17, Justice Noorul Haq N. Qureshi declared the orders sending Saeed Khan on forced leave as illegal and reinstated him as chairman Ogra. The government filed an appeal against the order. A division bench comprising Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Amir Farooq of the IHC heard the appeal. On Tuesday, Additional Attorney General Afnan Karim Kundi filed an application before the court, seeking permission for the appointment of an acting chairman. He said important decisions at Ogra were pending and the management could not make such decisions in the absence of the chairman. Mr Kundi informed the court that Ogra had become dysfunctional because of the court’s order, upon which Justice Farooq said that Ogra was already dysfunctional technically.
Babar Sattar, the counsel for Ogra’s chairman, asked the court to suspend the implementation of the decision against him till an appeal was filed in the Supreme Court. The inquiry has been completed and a report submitted to the Cabinet Division on May 8. The notification of forced leave of Saeed Khan expired, he added. However, Mr Kundi said he was not aware of the report. Saeed Khan was sent on three months’ forced leave in connection with the oil shortage in the country in January. The government sent him on forced leave till the inquiry against him concluded. The probe was tasked to the Public Service Commission under the Ogra Act to unravel all aspects of the crisis, including final fixation of the responsibility for the crisis.