LAHORE   -   A writ petition has been filed in the Lahore High Court against the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC)’s decision to increase the prices of petroleum products.

Last Friday, the ECC of the Cabinet approved an increase of Rs9.35 per litre in the price of petrol, Rs4.89 diesel, Rs6.40 light diesel and Rs7.46 per litre kerosene oil. The Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) had sought an increase of Rs14.37 per litre in the petrol price from May 1.

The decision came just a month after hike in the prices of petroleum products. On April 1, the government had increased the prices of all petroleum products up to 6.45 percent. Then the prices of petrol and diesel had been increased by Rs6 per litre while kerosene and light diesel oil prices were increased by Rs3 a litre.

The petition stated that the international crude oil prices remained stagnant. However, the government decided to increase the prices, which would affect people of Pakistan.

The petitioner pleads that the hike is in violation of Articles 9, 14 and 15 of the Constitution of Pakistan as it would cause further inflation. The petitioner submitted that the ECC’s decision be declared null and void.

As per the ECC decision, the new prices will be applied after the approval by the federal cabinet tomorrow. If approved by the prime minister, the decision will take the per litre price of petrol to Rs108.

On April 30, the federal cabinet had deferred the proposed increase in the POL products by the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA). After deferring the matter, the government had referred for further consideration the issue to the ECC which decided to increase the prices.

On the other side, the public and the opposition parties fired broadside at the government for the increase in the prices of petroleum products.

They say that the increase in the prices of petroleum commodities had already increased inflation after the last month’s raise, and the new ECC decision would bring a new wave of inflation across the country.

Separately, a sessions court adjourned until May 15 a Rs10 billion defamation suit filed by Opposition Leader in National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif against Prime Minister Imran Khan. Additional Sessions Judge Amjad Khan directed premier’s lawyer Babar Awan to advance arguments at the next date of hearing in the case.

After assuming charge, ASJ Amjad Khan repeatedly told the defence counsel to advance arguments, but so far arguments have not been advanced.

Earlier, a vice-counsel of Babar Awan had sought adjournment. Accepting the request, the court adjourned the hearing.

Shehbaz Sharif had filed the defamation suit against Imran Khan over his claim that the last PML-N government had offered him Rs10 billion bribe to remain silent on Panama Leaks.

Shehbaz said in the petition that he was a “highly respectable individual and enjoyed an excellent reputation in both national and international circles with a long and illustrious career in politics and public service to his credit”.

Shehbaz further said that he was “widely known and respected for his credibility, hard work, integrity and competence”. Babar Awan had requested the court that Shehbaz be directed to produce various documents, which negate the latter’s stance.