ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court on Monday expressed dissatisfaction over the performance of federal and provincial governments in the case pertaining utilisation of ground water used by bottled water and beverages companies without any charges.

“This is final notice to all (the governments) to file draft law. Attorney General for Pakistan must be responsible. Otherwise strict action will be taken,” remarked Justice Umar Ata Bandial while heading a three-judge bench.

The other members of the bench include Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Ijazul Ahsan which was hearing the cases pertaining to suo motu regarding selling bottled water extracted from the ground without any charge, its fitness for human consumption and recovery of water bills.

At the outset of the hearing, Justice Bandial inquired that the government was supposed to submit draft laws on the issue.

Additional Attorney General (AAG) Sajid Ilyas Bhatti informed the bench that all provinces have their own respective laws on the issue.

However, Justice Bandial recalled that on the previous date of hearing the attorney general had assured this court that he will submit a draft law and all the provincial governments will adopt it.

Justice Ahsan citing a news report of a newspaper remarked that fine was imposed on a captain of a foreign cricket team on the grounds that he wasted water while washing his car.

Those nations who want to conserve water enforce their law in this way, remarked Justice Ahsan, lamenting that the law has not been framed in the country yet. 

This issue should be the top priority of the government but situation of priority is that no progress has been made in six months, added Justice Ahsan. He further questioned the AAG whether the law has been drafted. To this, AAG Bhatti replied in negation.

Justice Bandial giving last warning to the government remarked that strict action will be taken if no progress in this regard made.

Advocate General Islamabad Tariq Jahangiri informed the bench that as far as Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) is concerned a law has been drafted.

However, Justice Bandial remarked that this is not for adoption but for guidance. The bench was further informed that a committee has been constituted to devise strategy over the matter.

During the hearing, Justice Ahsan also asked the provincial government regarding the reports of provincial governments on installation of flow meters.

Justice Bandial observed that some of the respondent companies started campaign that these proceedings will jeopardise their business operations. He ensured that these proceedings are not meant to close businesses but to raise awareness and rationalize it.

Regarding the constitution of committee, Justice Bandial observed that order of the instant hearing shall itself notify the constitution of committee.

During the hearing, the bench also expressed dissatisfaction on the report of WASA saying it is not in accordance with the top court’s orders.

Justice Bandial questioned who gave this authority to WASA to issue bills to the companies on capacity basis and not on consumption basis adding that WASA is doing this only to sabotage and subvert the process.

The top court while directing the provincial governments to submit draft laws and fresh reports on metering system mechanism in bottled water and beverages industry and adjourned the hearing till Friday.