Gilgit (D.Times):The judicial Hullabaloo continues in Gilgit-Baltistan as the recent appointment of the Chief Judge of GB apex court has been challenged in the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
Ghulam Abbas, chairman Gilgit-Baltistan National Moment (GBNM) has filed a petition in the supreme court of Pakistan seeking an injunction against the appointment and a stay order on the oath taking ceremony of the new judge.
The petitioner has contended that the appointment of the retired judge in the court of last resort is illegal and against the basic human rights of the people of Gilgit as per the Gilgit-Baltistan (Empowerment and Self-Governance) Order, 2009.
The writ petition filed through Advocate Ikram Chaudhry has contended that the appointment of Chief Judge is against the Gilgit-Baltistan Order which constitutes:
“At any time when the office of Chief Judge of Gilgit-Baltistan is vacant, or the Chief Judge, is absent or unable to perform the functions of his office due to any other cause, the next senior Judge of the Supreme Appellate Court to act as Chief Judge of Gilgit-Baltistan.”
The petitioner has pleaded the highest court of Pakistan to declare the appointment null and void and issue a stay-order against the oath-taking ceremony of the judge which is likely to proceed on 8th of this month.
Social and political circles in Gilgit-Baltistan disapprove re-employment of retired judges – for fear of politically motivated selective justice— in Gilgit-Baltistan by federal government without any respect to the Self Rule Ordinance.
It is to be mentioned here that the Chief Justice of Pakistan earlier has disapproved the re-employment of senior judges expecting them to retire gracefully and regard the independence of judiciary.
“There is a high chance that the company may pack up in the near future,” said one source who wished to remain anonymous.
Mohsin Industries is owned by Wang Zunyu, a Hong Kong national who moved to Gilgit-Baltistan three years ago to start a gemstone mining company. Wang had converted to Islam and married a Gilgiti woman. Wang owns a company known as Bao-Billion Mining Group, of which Mohsin Industries is a Pakistani affiliate.
Wang had hired hundreds of locals for the company and recruited a man named Abid Baig, an influential local resident, as the president. Baig was reported to have been vehement in allowing a company owned by a foreign national to mine gemstones in Gilgit-Baltistan since he said it would provide job opportunities to local people.
In June 2011, Mohsin Industries was granted a gemstone mining licence by the Gilgit-Baltistan government, an action that cause an uproar in the province’s Legislative Assembly since the legislature had already banned the provincial government from issuing new licences. In a resolution passed by the assembly, Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Mehdi Shah was accused of “secretly” and illegally granting the licence to Mohsin Industries.
The chief minister has insisted that the licence was granted by the federal government and that he had nothing to do with it.
Several members of the province’s Metals, Minerals and Gems Association have been opposed to the manner in which Mohsin Industries was granted its licence and have threatened to protest against the government if those mining rights are not withdrawn.
The Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Court is also conducting hearings into a writ petition challenging the mining rights granted to Mohsin Industries.
All these hearings, however, may not be necessary. Sources familiar with the situation say that the company has laid of dozens of employees and even Baig is reported to have left the company after a falling out with Wang. Despite several attempts by The Express Tribune to reach him, Baig did not respond to requests for comment.
The Express Tribune also tried to reach the company’s media office, but learnt that the media section of the firm had been closed.
Meanwhile, sources also say that Wang, who now goes by the name of Mohsin, divorced his Gilgiti wife ‘after they developed some differences.’ This was Wang’s second marriage, the first of which he ended in order to marry the woman in Gilgit.
The Chief Court of Gilgit-Baltistan has admitted a Writ Petition on Monday for regular hearing wherein the issuance of Exploration Licenses to Mohsin Industries by the Government of Gilgit-Baltistan has been challenged; a Press note, released by Sargin Law Associates, stated.
The petitioners, M/S Pan Euro International, Bilchar Trade Internation and Skardu Gems and Minerals, have objected that the issuance of licenses to the Hong Kong based company is ‘illegal, unlawful and against national interest’.
Shehbaz Khan a senior Advocate of the region appeared in the court to argue on behalf of the petitioners. The government of Gilgit-Baltistan was represented by the Deputy Advocate General while Mohsin Industries was represented by Avocate Mir Ikhlaq.
The Petitioners charged that Explorations Licenses to Mohsin Industries is an abuse of process, act of discrimination and encroachment on local property rights.
The government of Gilgit-Baltistan has ignored several applications submitted by local, national and international companies — including those of the petitioners — pending for the last three years. While, issuing the licenses to Mohsin Industries, the government has shown extra legal and judicial leniency.
The petitioners charge that in the matter of issuance of the Exploration Licenses, the fundamental rights of the local people — granted in the Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self Governance Order 2009 — have been violated. The petitioners also contend that the GB government has betrayed its own Cabinet decision that has sought ban on issuance of exploration licenses and mining leases until further orders.
On June 7th this year, the GB Legislative Assembly has passed a resolution that sought an immediate ban exploration and export of precious mineral resources from the region. But the government continued contravening the GB Rules of Business (2009) too.
The petition pointed out the gross violations of Northen Areas Mining Concession Rules 2003 that, according to the petitioners, has been committed by the Mineral Department of Gilgit Baltistan
The petition further contends that Wang Zunyu’s application was processed and approved through extra-ordinary processes despite his application being defective and incomplete. More than 200 other applications, including those of the petitioners, passed through nobody’s table.
Once of the interesting points of the petition was the claim that Mr. Wang Zunyu’s company had submitted a proposal for investment of 70 million Pakistani Rupees in Exploration as foreign national company while section 106 of NA Mining Concession Rules (2003) declares investment at least 300 million Rupees at a small scale mining restricted for Pakistani nationals only.
The petition outlines several provisions of Mining rules abrogated by the Mining Department of Gilgit-Baltistan and Mohsin Industries. The petition also maintains that the controversial company has mined, processed and transported sensitive metals to unknown locations.
In support of the petition the parties have produced several documents that the court may take into consideration. The court adjourned the proceedings for next hearing in February 22, next year- Dardistan Report