IHC stops operations on sugar mills



ISLAMABAD: The sugar industry has been shaken by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) action against the government on Thursday due to the misuse of public funds and huge price increases.


IHC Chief Justice Athar Minella has deferred to the Commission of Inquiry into the Sugar Scandal Commission, claiming that it would supply consumers with one kilogram per kilo on the basis of criminal cases against sugar mill owners. The next hearing date is June 25th.

The petitioners, in this case, were prominent Chinese mill owners and known political figures.

Along with the Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA), Jahangir Tareen, and his son Ali Tareen, Salman Shahbaz, Makhdoom Omar Shekhar, son of opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif, brother of Federal Minister of Economic Affairs Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiyar. Apart from these, there are sugar mills. Sardar Ali Raja Khan Dreska and others have challenged the report of the commission's investigation into the China scandal.

According to the report, Pakistan has exported more than four million tonnes of sugar mills in the last five years in terms of export subsidy, with sugar mills costing over Rs.

Petitioner's counsel, Makhdoom Ali Khan, argued before the court that the Commission was not properly constituted or confined to its limits, but exceeded its mandate.

He said the Commission had ignored an important aspect of the rise in sugar prices.

He argued that the actions and recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry were not in line with the 2017 law.

Responding to a court question, the lawyer said 30 percent of the country's sugar is consumed by the people and the rest is being sold to commercial customers. The price is the same for these categories.

When asked by a lawyer whether the trial commissioner had investigated this important issue and recommended any relief to the plaintiff, the non-commercial consumer, his answer was negative.

The court noted: "It is evident from the report that the Commission of Inquiry has been set up to investigate the rise in sugar prices to provide relief to the general public."

The cartelization of prices or the monopoly price has affected the general public, ie, the non-commercial consumers, and thus it is seen as a case of exploiting 30 percent of non-commercial consumers.

“Chinese are the basic needs of the common people, especially the low income group. The state does not treat commercial consumers as equal (association) or state. The price of sugar for a non-commercial consumer is directly related to the right to life under the Constitution, ”the court observed.

Quoting the Inquiry Commission's report, Justice Minilla said it did not explain the reasons for conducting a selective forensic audit. "The status of the Report of the Commission of Inquiry, that is, other laws, namely the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999, State Bank of Pakistan Act, 1956 and Income Tax Ordinance, 2001, is required to be considered."

The PSMA has raised concerns about the scope of the 2017 law that authorized the constitution of the Commission in relation to the authority of provincial governments, and the court read the order. "The operations were taken in a non-transparent manner and some were targeted."

"The status quo will continue until next date and no further action or action will be taken for the investigation report. According to court orders, the order will be for the sale of sugar to a non-commercial consumer at Rs. 70 per kg.

Additional Attorney General Tariq Mahmood Khokhar said he had no public procurement for a low price, but opposed any restriction orders.

He said he would cooperate with the court after receiving the notice and the matter would be rectified on Monday or Friday (today). He repeatedly reiterated that no restrictions should be placed on federal listening.

The counsel for the petitioners, however, agreed that the sugar will be sold at Rs. 70 per kg by June 25 in response to the ban.

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