GB is not a Pakistani province: Supreme Appellate Court
By Farooq Ahmed Khan
Gilgit, October 25: The Supreme Appellate Court (SAC) of Gilgit Baltistan has ruled that the region has exclusive right to royalty of one power house being constructed as part of Diamir – Bhasha Dam proposed on the right bank of the Indus River while the region will be entitled to one half share of the royalty on second power house proposed on the left bank of river.
In its detailed judgment issued here today the decision of the apex court further observed that in case of any dispute in proportionate share, the government of Pakistan may refer the matter to the Council of Common Interest (CCI) for decision with representation of the Government of Gilgit -Baltistan.
SAC, the apex court of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) held in clause(f) of the article 3 of the judgement that the Supreme Appellate Court, GB in the Judicature chapter in Gilgit-Baltistan (Empowerment and Self-Governance Order 2009 is apex court of GB and has complete independence with exclusive jurisdiction of final court in GB in all matters of judicial nature.” The Decision rendered by this court on a question of law is binding on all executive and judicial authorities in GB”, it observed.
The court decision cleared the status of the region and said that GB is not as suchc a province of Pakistan rather has the status of an area included in Pakistan for all intends and purposes including the administrative and policy decision and is under direct control of the federal government of Pakistan.
“ Therefore, in case of any dispute in relation to the ratio of share of royalty and power of Diamer Bhasha Dam of left bank of Indus River, the matter will be referred to the Council of Common Interest for decision with representation of Government of GB”, it ruled.
The judgment written by full bench of the SAC, headed by its Chief Judge Justice Mr. Nawaz Abbasi observed that Gilgit-Baltistan is not as such defined in the territory of Pakistan in the Constitution of Pakistan 1973 but it may be treated an area included in Pakistan by virtue of Article 1(2)(d) of the Constitution of Pakistan which is governed by GB (Empowerment and Self-governance) Order 2009, deemed to have been issued under article 258 of the constitution as a sub constitutional document for self-governance under the administrative control of Federal Government of Pakistan without the status of a province of Pakistan.
The SAC in its decision stated that notwithstanding that constitution of Pakistan has no direct application in internal affairs of GB, the constitution of Pakistan is followed in GB as superior law, therefore,in the light of definition of power house under national and international law, the principal of Article 161 of the Constitution of Pakistan will be applicable for purpose of determination of the question of royalty of Power Houses of Diamer-Bhasha Dam.
The court also ruled that the calculation and quantum of royalty is a question independent to the right of royalty and two matters are to be essentially dealt with by the different forums. The question, the decision said, relating to the right of royalty is the subject matter of this petition whereas the quantum of royalty and calculation of proportionate share of royalty is a matter for consideration of Government of Pakistan.
The petition submitted by member of the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly, Bashir Ahmed through his council Muhammad Issa under article 45 (2) read with Article 19 of Northern Area Governance Order 1994 which substituted GB (Empowerment and Self Governance Order 2009.