ISLAMABAD - Another historic verdict by the Supreme Court Thursday made the government slash CNG prices by unprecedented Rs30 per kilogram, doubling the Eid delight for millions of users.The big time cut in the Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) price was notified by the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) with immediate effect, after the Supreme Court in its interim verdict in the CNG pricing case declared the existing pricing formula illegal.After this major decrease in the prices, the CNG price on Thursday (yesterday) dropped to Rs61.64 per kg in Region I (Potohar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Balochistan), and Rs54.16 per kg in Region II (Sindh and Punjab, excluding Potohar areas).Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court resumed hearing the case regarding petroleum and CNG prices and issued the interim order, declaring the current CNG pricing formula against the law and ordered to implement the July 1, 2012 prices.A two-member bench of the apex court, comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and Justice Jawwad S Khawaja, heard the case. The court stopped the authorities to link price of imported commodity petrol with the domestically produced CNG declaring it “unjustified” and “unreasonable”The court observed that cost component of CNG price includes Rs17.78 Gas Development Surcharge and Rs20.80 operating cost of CNG stations, while Rs10 is added to it by linking of CNG price with petrol. He said by doing away with these cost additives, the authorities could give much relief to the public.The bench asked the Ogra chairman to revise the CNG price and give “good news to the public on Eid” in the form of reduced prices of the commodity. The chief justice also remarked that due to Rs20.80 operating cost, millions of rupees were given as bribe to the authorities for getting licences of CNG stations.The chief justice said those who wanted to do the business they could do it but they would not allow anyone to loot the people. He said that no one can be allowed to indulge in profiteering and hoarding, as these are crimes. The chief justice said to the the Ogra chairman that the way he was defending CNG price mechanism it seemed he has share in the CNG business.Later, Petroleum Secretary Waqar Masood Khan informed the bench that the government has pondered on the court concerns and they therefore has decided that the pricing of CNG linking it with the price f petrol on weekly basis will be abandoned. He also said that the weekly notification of petroleum prices has been halted until Economic Coordination Committee’s (ECC) decision while the agreement between the government and CNG association over the operating cost has also been suspended.He submitted a statement saying that with immediate effect, the price will be brought to the level that was fixed for CNG sector subsequent to the determination of price by Ogra for the six months beginning July 1, 2012. “The MoU through which the government and CNG associations had agreed on a formula operating cost of CNG stations (Rs20.80) will be immediately suspended and Ogra will develop a new formula,” he further said.Earlier, Ogra Chairman Saeed Ahmed Khan submitted a report on the formula used for fixing gas prices following the SC directives. The report stated that owners were making Rs11 per kg profit and Rs20 per kg operating cost on CNG.The CJP inquired from Petroleum secretary that why the operating cost was given to the owners of CNG stations? He said setting up of CNG stations is the only business in which the profit is more than 50 per cent, as in other businesses the profit margin is not more than 25 per cent. During the hearing the Petroleum secretary and Ogra chief failed to satisfy the court on many counts.Noticing that the Ogra does not function independently, Justice Jawwad S Khawaja asked the Ogra chairman to “take out this thing from your mind that Ogra is under the government”. He said under section 8(3) of Ogra Ordinance the determination of Gas Development Surcharges should be on the advice.Justice Jawwad said till date the Ogra has not fulfilled its responsibility, adding, “Since yesterday (Wednesday) we have been asking the chairman to show us the documents but he is hesitant.” The Ogra chairman informed the bench that there was no progress on Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline and TAPI gas project.The court also objected to Rs323 per MMBTU as well head cost. This chief justice said that was very high and directed to conduct the forensic audit of the well head cost. Sui Southern Gas Pipeline Limited Managing Director Azeem Iqbal informed that they have fixed return and increase in CNG does not increase the companies’ profit.The chief justice observed that CNG stations have been set up against the policy. He observed that gas loadshedding enhance the pilferage. He said there should be pre-paid system of gas availability at the CNG stations that if the balance is finished then on payment to the authority the owners get more gas. The hearing was adjourned until November 1.During the hearing, CNG Association President Ghias Paracha stated that the government’s signing MoU with the CNG owners was a mistake of the petroleum minister and that the officials get commission in the operating cost.Paracha assured the court that they would implement the Supreme Court order whatever it would be. But later, when the price cut was announced by Ogra, the CNG association rejected it and wrote a letter to the regulatory body in protest.