SC appoints amicus curiae, issues notice to BHCBA in Reko Diq case

ISLAMABAD, Nov 01 (APP): The Supreme Court on Tuesday appointed three amicus curiae and issued notice to the Balochistan High Court Bar Association (BHCBA) in a case regarding the Reko Diq settlement agreement.

A five-member larger bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Muneeb Akhtar, Justice Yahya Afridi, and Justice Jamaal Khan Mandokhel heard the presidential reference filed in the case. The president — on the advice of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had filed the reference last month to seek the top court’s opinion on the Reko Diq settlement agreement.

During the course of proceedings, the court appointed Barrister Dr Farogh Naseem, Salman Akram Raja and Zahid Ibrahim as amicus curiae (judicial assistants) and issued notice to the Balochistan High Court Bar for assisting in the reference.

Additional Attorney General (AAG) for Pakistan Aamir Rehman maintained that the judicial order had declared that the relaxation in the rules was done against the laws. The court had declared that there was no authority to ease the rules for an international company, he added.

The Chief Justice asked if the rules were still the same or had been amended. The AAG said the rules have been amended as the government could make amendments as per the new laws.

He said Pakistan would have a 50% share in the minerals extracted from Reko Diq. Upon which, Justice Jamal Mandokhail remarked that following the laws was a must no matter how much share the country gets.

Aamir Rehman said that nothing was being done against the law and the agreement had been prepared while keeping the court’s order in view. In experts’ opinion, a better agreement wouldn’t have been possible in the current circumstances, he said adding Pakistan would have to pay over $9 billion if the agreement was not made.

Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial remarked the court had the jurisdiction to review only the constitutional questions asked in a presidential reference. The political or economic questions could not be reviewed in a presidential reference the CJP remarked adding why did the government want to apply the 1970s laws on billions of rupees’ investments.

THE CJP further inquired why did the government not make new rules and regulations of international standards.

He asked if the Balochistan government had done new legislation on mining.

The CJP also asked the authorities to the state under which the policy or legal framework the Reko Diq agreement was made.

Subsequently, the hearing of the case was adjourned till Wednesday.