The Supreme Court on Friday observed that the entire responsibility would rest with the government if International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) announces an adverse verdict on a dispute between Pakistan and the Tethyan Copper Company-Australia (TCC) over Reko Diq mining lease.
A three-judge bench led by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry resumed the hearing of identical petitions filed against the federal government”s decision to lease out gold and copper mines in Reko Diq in Balochistan to foreign companies. The bench categorically stated that the court would seek a satisfactory explanation from all parties to the case as to how and under what law TCC was granted mining rights in Pakistan.
The bench resumed the hearing of Reko Diq case after it took up a fresh petition filed against intervention from the ICSID Tribunal London which reserved its judgement over the Reko Diq mining lease dispute on November 6. The Chief Justice asked why TCC approached ICSID Tribunal if the agreement was transparent and legal.
The bench has granted leave to appeal to a petition of Maulana Abdul Haque Baloch, making it a part of the earlier filed identical petitions in the Reko Diq case against the federal government”s decision to lease out gold and copper mines in Balochistan to foreign companies.
At the outset of hearing, Advocate General Balochistan Amanullah Kanrani submitted documentary record pertaining to the Reko Diq lease, saying the agreement of the provincial government with BHP Minerals Intermediate Exploration was signed only for exploration of the mineral resource.
He told the bench that ICSID during the hearing had clearly raised a question: Who would be held responsible for making payment of compensation to the TCC in case the contract was declared null and void by the Tribunal? The bench directed all parties to help the court determine during the next hearing under which law the Reko Diq agreement was challenged at an international forum for mediation.
Raza Kazim, the counsel for the petitioner Maulana Abdul Haque Baloch, reiterated that Reko Diq contract was not legal or transparent, adding that the execution of CHEJVA was tailor-made to cater to the needs of the respondents of the case. He contended CHEJVA was made on the respondents” specific terms, including the process of taking the copper and gold out of Pakistan. Substantiating his argument, Kazim said the people of Balochistan and Pakistan were not given accurate information relating to actual amount of copper and gold discovered in Reko Diq. Later, the court adjourned the hearing of case till November 19.