SC appoints amicus curiae in Reko Diq reference hearing

ISLAMABAD (INP): The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Tuesday named three amicus curiae for hearing a presidential reference seeking validation for the new Reko Diq project deal under Article 186 of the Constitution.
A five-member bench of Supreme Court – headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial – hearing the presidential reference on Reko Diq project. Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail are other members of the bench. The court nominated Barrister Farogh Naseem, Salman Akram Raja and Zahid Ibrahim Advocate as amicus curiae in the case.
The bench also issued notice to the Balochistan High Court Bar in the reference. Additional Attorney General Amir Rehman said that the court verdict had declared that the rules were softened in violation of the law. The court had said that the rules could not be eased out for an international firm, AAG said.
“Whether the rules are same now or amended,” Chief Justice Bandial questioned. “The law with regard to Reko Diq has been amended,” lawyer replied. “Under the new law the government could amend the rules,” he said. “Despite easing out rules, transparency is necessary,” chief justice observed. “Pakistan will get 50 percent share in the mineral project,” AAG said. “What share the country gets, the law must be applied,” Justice Mandokhail remarked.
“Reko Diq agreement has been prepared in view of the past verdict of the court. No better agreement was possible on Reko Diq project in existing circumstances,” the state counsel said. “Pakistan have to pay back over nine billion dollars if the agreement not enforced,” AAG said.
“The court remains restricted to the limits of the questions asked in a reference,” Justice Bandial observed. “The court could only review the constitutional questions in a reference, not the political or economic questions,” the CJP said. “Access to the justice is a constitutional right, won’t it be an injustice if a third party gets affected with an international agreement,” chief justice questioned.
“The constitution gives every person the right of access to the justice,” Justice Bandial said. “Why the government wants to enforce 1970s laws on an investment of billions,” CJP asked.
“Why the government not setting the rules and regulations of the international level,” the top judge further questioned.
“If the Balochistan government has passed new laws with regard to mining,” he asked. “In the absence of the new laws, the new Reko Diq agreement will be at the mercy of the court order,” Justice Bandial remarked.
“Under which policy or legal framework, the Reko Diq agreement has been formulated,” he further asked.
The court adjourned further hearing of the reference till November 02 (tomorrow).
In the reference, President Alvi has asked the Supreme Court whether a new deal on the Reko Diq with Barrick Gold Corporation, a Canada-based mining group, was legally safe under the Constitution of Pakistan and international arbitration.
The president also asked the apex court whether the proposed Foreign Investment (Protection and Promotion) Bill 2022 would be a valid law under the Constitution.
Reko Diq is one of the world’s largest undeveloped copper-gold mines. The project is being restarted after remaining on hold since 2011.