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Pleas against privatisation of KE dismissed

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Thursday dismissed a set of petitions challenging privatisation of K-Electric (KE) and transfer of the company’s shares and administrative control to a Dubai-based Abraaj Capital.

The power utility’s labour union had filed five identical petitions between 2005 to 2015 challenging the company’s privatisation.

The labour union contended that the privatisation process for the then Karachi Electric Supply Corporation (KESC) was made in violation of Article 154 of the Constitution as neither prior approval of the Council of Common Interests was sought nor was the process supervised or controlled.

The two-judge bench — comprising Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi and Justice Rashida Asad — pronounced the judgement which was reserved on Aug 17, 2020 after lengthy proceedings and arguments from the counsel for the parties in the matter.

“The privatisation process adopted by the respondents in respect of sale/transfer of the share of the KESC does not violate the Constitutional mandate, whereas, substantial compliance of provisions Privatisation Commission Ordinance, 2000 read with the Privatisation Commission (Modes and Procedures) Rules, 2001 had also been made, therefore, no interference is required by this court,” the bench ruled.

“Accordingly, aforesaid Constitutional Petitions being devoid of any merit, are hereby dismissed along with listed applications,” it added.

The judges further wrote in the judgment that “without prejudice to above finding, we hereby declared that the petitioners have failed to establish the mala fide on the part of the respondents in respect of sale/transfer of the share to the KESC through negotiated sale to a private company, which is otherwise permissible in law and as per rules referred to hereinabove, therefore, the allegations of mala fide by the petitioners on the part of the respondents stands rebutted, hence the petitions are dismissed on this ground also.”

The judges further wrote that “nothing has been produced by the learned counsel for the petitioners in support of their submission that the electricity being an essential service cannot be privatised, therefore, such plea of the petitioners also stands rebutted and the petitions are hereby dismissed on this account also.”

Five petitions were filed in the SHC between 2005 and 2015 questioning the transfer of shares and administrative control of the then KESC to Abraaj.

The labour union had contended in the pleas that the Privatisation Commission kept everyone in the dark about the exact terms and conditions regarding the sale of KESC to the reconstituted Hasan Associates.

The petition had maintained that the shares of the company were transferred without inviting a fresh tender or bid for selling the shares.

The counsel for the petitioner had further submitted that the KE’s current shares were now being sold to a Chinese company by the Abraaj Capital.

During the course of proceedings, the commission had earlier submitted comments stating that the privatisation process of KESC was not conducted under any secrecy, and that all the major stakeholders of the company were consulted and kept abreast of all major development at every stage.

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