Peshawar - Amidst nationwide protests denouncing the soaring electricity rates, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Bar Council has declared a province- wide court boycott today (Thursday) to express their dissent on the issue.
Protest rallies have sprung up across the country and within Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, with people setting fire to their inflated electricity bills. This surge in bills coincides with a significant increase in per-unit electricity costs.
Zar Badshah and Syed Mubashir Shah, office-bearers of the KP Bar Council, declared that lawyers would abstain from court proceedings on August 31 as a symbolic protest against the surging tariffs for electricity and gas. They voiced concern for the masses, struggling to provide sustenance to their families amidst the government’s proposal to impose additional taxes on electricity and gas bills.
They appealed for an end to privileged provisions of free electricity, gas, and petroleum for bureaucrats, judges, and elites to provide relief to the general public. They announced plans for lawyers throughout the province to collectively protest this inequality, further urging district bar councils to coordinate protests at the local level.
The public and the legal fraternity were encouraged to actively participate in these demonstrations. Additionally, they announced the provision of free legal assistance to the public through consumer courts in cases of electricity bill issues.
Power Company Employees Demonstrate: On the other hand, employees from the electricity distribution companies staged a symbolic demonstration at the Wapda House in Peshawar. This protest was in response to the proposed discontinuation of free units provided to officers within these companies.
Workers from the Peshawar Electric Supply Company, Tribal Electric Supply Company, and National Transmission and Dispatch Company expressed their intention to legally challenge the possible withdrawal of this facility. They dispelled misconceptions circulating on social media, asserting that the limited power units allotted to them are a part of their salary package, with the companies covering the costs.
In addition to their concerns, the employees called for an end to the practice of tax collection through electricity bills. They advocated for transferring this responsibility of tax collection to relevant departments, along with the integration of digital technology within distribution companies to enhance convenience for both consumers and businesses.
Despite raising concerns that even reached the Caretaker Prime Minister, Anwarul Haq Kakar, and other authorities, leading to a dedicated meeting to address the matter, the reality remains distant. The prospect of high-ranking officials relinquishing the privilege of free power units for the greater public good appears unlikely.