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Chagi mining: SC questions legal basis for TCCP operations

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on Thursday asked the counsel representing Tethyan Copper Company (TCCP), under which laws was the organisation engaging in mining business in Pakistan without being incorporated as a company.

The apex court chief raised the question while conducting proceedings on a petition moved by late Maulana Abdul Haq regarding a mining lease awarded to the organistaion for gold and copper reserves exploration in the Chagi district of Balochistan.

During course of proceedings, the Chief Justice told TCCP’s counsel that people should realise that it was a sovereign country with laws. He asked counsel to substantiate his stance as to how could they operate in other countries without meeting the legal requirements. The CJP observed that nobody could do business in any part of the globe without being incorporated and questioned whether he could cross over to the Wagha or Torkham borders without meeting the legal requirements.

Justice Gulzar Ahmed said that there were also many somersaults from the BHP company itself over issues related to relaxation of rules and mining lease. He observed that the company had sought complete trampling of rules.

Khalid Anwar, counsel for TCCP, contended that concept of incorporation in foreign countries required attention and said under the relevant laws, there was no such embargo upon a foreign company as a number of US and Australian companies were doing various businesses in Pakistan.

On the other hand, Anwar claimed that incorporation of a company was not difficult, but that the government of Balochistan was in the wrong by suing TCCP rather than BHP, with which they had reached an agreement. He contended that the parent company should be sued as his client had not sought a single law to be relaxed nor for a single word in the Chagi Hills Exploration Joint Venture Agreement (CHEJVA) to be amended.

The bench adjourned further hearing till Friday.

Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Sh. Azmat Saeed were the other members of the bench.