ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court Monday directed Khyber Pukhtunkhawa government to file a statement whether the High Court or the apex court has jurisdiction to decide Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL) shares' sale. A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Nasir ul Mulk heard the federation's appeal against the PHC decision to ban the sale of OGDCL shares. The Court in the last hearing had suspended the PHC order and allowed the federal government to present the OGDCL shares for auction, but could not be sold till the final verdict.

Attorney General Salman Butt argued before the bench that the Peshawar High Court had no jurisdiction to hear the case, adding the PTI-led KP government has filed a petition in the PHC on Friday against the OGDCL shares sale and the High Court heard it two days later and also passed a stay order. He pleaded, let the privatisation of 10 per cent shares take place as the money earned from it would go to federal consolidate funds. The chief justice asked the AGP that he could have taken up this argument before the PHC by filing an intra court appeal. The attorney general pleaded that the privatisation would benefit the people, adding both the foreign and local companies had been bidding for the shares. A team of financial experts would examine them and this process would be completed within two days.

He said the process for privatisation of OGDCL shares started in May and its 'road shows' had been completed in London, Boston, Singapore and Hong Kong. Various foreign companies were taking interest in it, adding if the privatisation is stopped then there would be huge financial losses.–TERENCE J SIGAMONY

He assured the court that the money earned from shares' sale would not be misused.

The CJP asked the attorney general to file an intra-court appeal in the PHC against the two-member bench order.

Waseem Sajjad, representing the KP government, pleaded the issue was not of money, but distribution of natural resources, and questioned who would decide about the ownership of the resources. Justice Nasir inquired from the counsel why the provincial government challenged the privatisation of OGDCL shares at a time of its auction.

Sajjad replied that since long the KP government had been striving for the right forum to decide about the distribution of natural resources between the province and the federation. He also said that the Privatisation Commission should have answered about the percentage of shares and ownership of the natural resources.

The chief justice observed that after the 18th Amendment things have changed and now provinces and the federation have 50, 50 per cent shares, of the natural resources, but a question arises who would implement it, and whether the High Court has jurisdiction to decide it or not?

Waseem Sajjad said whether the HC has a jurisdiction or not to decide this issue but let the Peshawar High Court give ruling on it. Justice Nasirul Mulk ordered him to file reply in this regard on Tuesday and adjourned the hearing.

The PML-N government had estimated to generate $850 million from the privatization of the 10 percent of the OGDCL, 7.5 per cent to foreign and 2.5 per cent to local investors. The process of OGDCL privatization had already been delayed due to the sit-ins of the Pakistan Tehreek-I-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) for the last two months.

The case was adjourned till today.