- CJP Banidal heads five-member bench to hear Reko Diq case.
- Supreme Court says cannot review political, economic questions.
- President Alvi filed reference last month on PM Shehbaz’s advice.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued notices to the Balochistan Bar Council in a case regarding the Reko Diq settlement agreement.
A five-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Umar Ata Bandial was hearing the presidential reference filed in the case.
The president — on the advice of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif — filed the reference last month to seek the top court’s opinion on the Reko Diq settlement agreement.
Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial constituted a five-member larger bench — led by himself — for hearing the presidential reference. Other members of the bench include Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Muneeb Akhtar, Justice Yahya Afridi, and Justice Jamaal Khan Mandokhel.
During the hearing, Additional Attorney General for Pakistan Aamir Rehman maintained that the judicial order had declared that the relaxation in the rules was done against the laws.
“The court declared that there was no authority to ease the rules for an international company,” the additional attorney general said.
At this, CJP Bandial inquired if the rules are still the same or have been amended.
Responding to the query, the additional attorney general said that the rules have been amended as the government can make amendments as per the new laws.
He told the court that Pakistan will have a 50% share in the minerals extracted from Reko Diq.
At this, Justice Jamal Mandokhail said that following the laws is a must no matter how much share the country has.
Rehman said that nothing is being done against the law and the agreement has been prepared while keeping the court’s order in view.
He said that in experts’ opinion, a better agreement wouldn’t have been possible in the current circumstances.
“Pakistan will have to pay over $9 billion if the agreement is not made,” Rehman said.
Meanwhile, CJP Bandial remarked that the court has the jurisdiction to review only the constitutional questions asked in a presidential reference.
“The political or economic questions cannot be reviewed in a presidential reference,” CJP Bandial said.
He asked why does the government want to apply the 1970s laws on billions of rupees of investments.
“Why doesn’t the government make new rules and regulations of international standard,” remarked CJP Bandial, asking if the Balochistan government has done new legislation on mining.
He also asked the authorities to the state under which policy or legal framework the Reko Diq agreement was made.
Meanwhile, the court nominated judicial assistants — Barrister Farogh Naseem, Salman Akram Raja and Advocate Zahid Ibrahim — to assist the court in Reko Diq presidential reference.
The court also issued a notice to the Balochistan High Court Bar Council.