Writ challenging legality of gas price hike filed

Dhaka, July 04 – A writ petition was filed yesterday with the High Court challenging the legality of government notification of increasing the gas price without giving any prior notice.
Supreme Court lawyer Advocate Eunus Ali Akond filed the writ petition with the related branch of the HC seeking a stay order on the government decision of hiking gas price.
Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission had on June 30 decided to increase gas price by 32.8 per cent for all users from July 1, despite repeated protests from consumer rights groups.
The petitioner alleged that the government notice is illegal as Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) did not hold any public hearing before the gas tariff hike.
As per the provision, the BERC has to take public opinion before increasing gas price and it has to give advertisement in the newspapers regarding the hike of gas price. But, the BERC increased the gas price without maintaining related provision of increasing the gas price, which was illegal and unconstitutional, the petitioner said.
In the petition, it was mentioned that although gas is a natural wealth and the government need not to import it for the country’s people. But, it increases the gas price almost every year without any valid reason, which is illegal and unconstitutional.
In the petition, the petitioner prayed to the HC to issue a rule asking the authorities concerned of the government to explain why decision of increasing gas price should not be declared illegal.
BERC chairman and secretaries to the BERC and Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources have been made respondents in the petition.
The HC bench led by Justice Syed Refaat Ahmed is likely to hold hearing on the petition on Sunday, the petitioner said.
The energy regulator on June raised tariff for all users, saying the move would help the government bear the expenses of importing liquefied natural gas.
According to the new tariff, households using a single burner will pay Tk 925 instead of Tk 750 a month. Those using a double burner will pay Tk 975 in place of Tk 800.
The BERC has increased the gas prices eight times in the past 10 years.
Meanwhile, Justice FRM Nazmul Ahsan and Justice M Kamrul Kader yesterday fixed to hold hearing on a supplementary petition relating to the way of fixing the gas price.
Convener of Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) Architect Mobassher Hossain filed the supplementary petition along with a main petition.
Following a writ petition, the HC bench had on January 19 this year issued a rule seeking an explanation as to why the decision of the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) to raise the prices of gas production, transmission and distribution should not be declared illegal. – Staff Reporter