Rs4.5m electricity arrears against ATCs not cleared for two years3 min read

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KARACHI: The provincial government has failed to clear the electricity dues/arrears, estimated at over Rs4.5 million, against the antiterrorism courts that have been outstanding for over two years, it emerged on Sunday.

Judicial sources told Dawn that the K-Electric had been issuing bills for two connections provided to barracks 9 in Block-4 and barracks 20 in block 4-A of the Sindh Secretariat, where the antiterrorism courts had been housed from January 2013 to February 2016.

Under directives of the Sindh High Court the provincial government had temporarily shifted the ATCs to the government barracks from its former accommodation at Sultanabad following growing security threats to judges, witnesses, undertrial prisoners and lawyers.

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Later, the courts were shifted to the ‘secured’ premises of the Municipal Training and Research Institute (MTRI) in Clifton near Bilawal House.

But the Sindh government, which has administrative control over the ATCs and is also responsible for providing utilities and meeting other financial needs, has not paid the electricity bills of the ATCs, the sources. The total unpaid dues/arrears come to Rs4,506,677, they added.

The official documents seen by Dawn showed that the KE is claiming the dues/arrears of Rs1,771,193 against an electricity connection provided to barracks 9 in Block-4 of the Sindh Secretariat.

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The documents further suggested that the power utility was also claiming another outstanding amount of Rs2,735,484 against the electricity connection provided to barracks 4-A in block 20 of the Sindh Secretariat.

The ATCs were shifted from barracks 20 to the MTRI building in October 2015 while the others were also shifted to the same place in the middle of February, 2016.On the other hand, the federal courts — including the accountability courts and the special control of narcotic substances courts, better known as NAB and CNS courts — were shifted to the same government barracks.

Of the total 20 ATCs, 18 courts have finally been shifted to the Karachi central prison.

The judicial sources said the electricity bills of the NAB and CNS courts had been regularly paid by the federal government, which had administrative control over these special courts and was also responsible for their financial expenditures, including the utilities. But they deplored that the Sindh government had so far not cleared the electricity dues against the ATCs.

The judicial sources cited a letters addressed by the administrative judge of the accountability courts and the CNS courts to the Sindh home department’s registrar for the antiterrorism courts, asking him to clear the dues that were being regularly claimed by the KE.

Last month, the CNS-II judge informed the KE’s deputy general manager, public sector consumers, that a total of Rs1,281,322 had been paid against electricity consumed at CNS- I and II from mid-Feb 2016 till July 16.

The KE official was further told that since both the CNS courts had shifted to the MTRI building on July 16, the ATCs registrar be approached to claim the past dues/arrears estimated at Rs1,771,193, the sources cited the letter.

In the meanwhile, the CNS-II judge also sent a letter to the ATCs registrar asking him to clear the power utility’s dues.

Separately, the judicial sources said the administrative judge of the accountability courts had mailed at least three letters to the ATCs registrar since March, informing him that the KE was claiming the arrears/dues Rs2,735,484 for a period before October 2015, when the accountability courts were shifted to the barracks.

When contacted, ATCs registrar Abdul Wahid Khoso confirmed to Dawn that the ATCs bills had not been paid. However, the registrar said the provincial finance department had been approached with a request to allocate Rs2.80 million so that the outstanding arrears against the ATCs could be cleared.

Mr Khoso further said that a reminder was also sent to the finance department recently, asking it to allocate the amount as the new government had passed the budget for the current fiscal year.

Published in Dawn, October 8th, 2018

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