ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Wednesday rejected the cement manufacturers and other industries’ request to grant a stay against the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) orders.

A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Justice Maqbool Baqir conducted hearing of appeals of various industries, mostly the cement producers, against the Lahore High Court and Islamabad High Court verdicts.

Attorney General for Pakistan Khalid Jawed Khan opposed the pleas of the industries’ lawyers. He said that the companies since 2009 were on stay. If the apex court grants stay then the finance system of the country would be disturbed, he added. He informed that whenever the CCP issues a notice to a company it gets stay from the high courts.

The cement producers’ counsel argued that the Parliament does not have legislative competence to make law on competition. He said that the CCP after the 18th constitutional amendment is a provincial subject and not the federation.

Justice Baqir directed the lawyers, representing the parties, to file written submissions before the next date (March 15). He said that after their submissions the court would hear them. He further said that the court would examine the Islamabad High Court, Lahore High Court and the Sindh High Court judgments.

Various industries including cement, oil & gas, energy, fertilizers, healthcare, education, and telecom in 2008 invoked the LHC jurisdiction on the same grounds and were granted stay against the CCP’s notices over alleged prohibited agreements and deceptive marketing practices.

However, in October 2020 it dismissed petitions of almost all industries which have challenged the vires of Competition Act, 2007, 2009 & 2010 and the legislative competence of the Parliament to legislate the Competition Act and the Ordinances.

The cement manufacturers and others have urged the apex court to set aside the LHC verdict in the matter while granting them a stay order against the commission’s actions.

They further requested the apex court to decide a question of law whether the LHC has erred in failing to appreciate the substantial devolution of powers from the federation to the provinces via the 18th amendment to the Constitution and thereby arrived at a conclusion which is diametrically opposite to what the intention was of the legislature in enacting the said amendment?

The appellants also urged the top court to decide whether the LHC has erred in disregarding the deliberate deletion of the entry relating to legislation in respect of monopolies and competition in the Federal Legislative List of the 1973 Constitution.

They submitted that there was no entry in the Federal Legislative List (FLL) which allowed parliament to enact law on the subject of competition, adding that the Parliament did not have the power to make laws on matters which were not enumerated in the FLL as the residue power was vested with the provinces after the 18th Constitution Amendment.

They submitted that the FLL did not contain any entry on the subject of competition or monopolies or in any manner with reference to antitrust restrictions.