LAHORE ': The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday declared the relocation of three sugar mills owned by the Sharif family, from central Punjab to south Punjab, as illegal and ordered to shift them back within three months.
A division bench, headed by Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah and comprising Justice Shujaat Ali Khan, of the LHC issued a 38-page detailed judgment on intra-court appeals challenging the October 2016’s single bench order which had banned shifting of all mills to cotton-growing areas of south Punjab.
The court ordered to shift back Ittefaq Sugar Mills, Haseeb Waqas Sugar Mills and Chaudhry Sugar Mills within three months.
A section of the 38-page judgment reads, “Impugned judgment dated October 10, 2016 of the learned single judge is upheld and it is declared that shifting/re-location of the aforesaid three sugar mills, from central Punjab to south Punjab, is in violation of the Ordinance, as well as, the ban notification, hence the establishment of the three sugar mills is declared illegal and without lawful authority.”
On October 10, 2016, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Jahangir Tareen had filed a petition in the LHC challenging the shifting of the mills despite the ban.
The three sugar mills, through their intra-court appeals, had challenged the verdict submitting that the ‘ban notification’ does not cover relocation of an existing sugar mill; therefore, relocation of the three sugar mills is not illegal.
They had claimed that the single bench was misled on the issue as a 2006 notification of industries department did not put any bar on relocating of existing sugar mills, but only on setting up new ones.
Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, counsel of Tareen, argued that the relocation of old mills to south Punjab is the same as setting up new mills and is therefore, illegal. He pleaded that new mills in the area would result in water shortage which will affect the production of cotton crops.
Ittefaq Sugar Mills is located in Bahawalpur, Haseeb Waqas Sugar Mills in Muzaffargarh and Chaudhry Sugar Mills in Rahim Yar Khan.
In March, the LHC had ordered sealing of Haseeb Waqas and Chaudhry sugar mills in order to shift them to new locations. Ittefaq Sugar Mills was not sealed as its counsel Salman Akram Raja was not present in the court at the time.