A justice of Pakistan Supreme Court (SC) claimed on Wednesday that the $10 billion fine imposed by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Tethyan Copper v. Pakistan case is equivalent to a nuclear bomb with devastation potential.
Justice Munib Akhtar stated during the hearing of the presidential reference about Reko Diq that “this fine is not against a provincial institution, but against the country.”
The case was considered by a five-member bigger bench, which was presided over by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Umar Ata Bandial and included Justices Ijazul Ahsan, Muneeb Akhtar, Yahya Afridi, and Jamaal Khan Mandokhel.
On the suggestion of Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, President Arif Alvi filed the reference last month to request the Supreme Court’s judgement about the Reko Diq settlement agreement.
According to Additional Attorney-General (AAG) Chaudhry Aamir Rehman, if the matter of relaxing the rules had been in the prior agreement, the court would not have declared it null and void in reference to the Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling in the Reko Diq case, which purportedly nullified the earlier agreement.
Munib asserted that provinces have the authority to enact Reko Diq and other mining-related regulations. “Is the federation authorized to amend the laws of the provinces? Has the Balochistan government eased the laws to accommodate foreign mining firms?” Chief Justice Bandial asked AAG, who said they did.
The CJP proposed setting up a consultative meeting to keep track of all issues pertaining to the accord. “Despite spending a billion rupees on the Reko Diq project, the federation transferred control to the Balochistani administration.”
The attorney general reassured the court that Reko Diq-related problems will be handled with great transparency and effectiveness. The CJP responded by saying that the degree of transparency could be assessed by the fact that “the Cabinet occasionally accepted documents without even opening them.”
Additionally, Justice Yahya questioned whether provinces might meddle in the federation-related international agreements.
CJP Bandial added that in the Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling there was no mention of the international company’s corruption. “The Balochistan government did not have the capacity to refine the gold and the foreign miner took advantage of it.”
The government should not overlook the potential benefits of Reko Diq gold for Pakistan, according to the counsel of the Balochistan Bar; paradoxically, Balochistan received nothing from this initiative.
The hearing was postponed until Monday, November 7, by the larger bench of five members.