KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) once again directed on Tuesday the local authorities to submit the criteria for fixing per litre price of fresh milk and other dairy products.
A two-judge bench, headed by Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi, also directed the Karachi commissioner to convene a meeting of all the stakeholders to review the prices of dairy products afresh and submit minutes of the meeting by the next hearing.
Till then, the commissioner was told to ensure fresh milk was sold at Rs85 per litre in the city.
These directives came on a petition filed by civil rights campaigner Muhammed Imran Shahzad seeking reduction in prices of dairy products and the establishment of a local taskforce to regulate the prices.
At the outset, the Karachi commissioner submitted the minutes of the meeting held between the stakeholders in compliance of the court's earlier direction. However, the judges returned it as they found that it did not bear the signatures of the participants of the meeting.
Dairy farmers once again informed the bench that they were suffering financial losses by selling fresh milk at Rs85 per litre as fixed by the government. They pleaded to the court to allow them to increase the price of the essential commodity.
SHC rejects request for Rangers to act against milk retailers
The bench directed the Karachi commissioner to convene a meeting of the stakeholders to review the prices of dairy products and submit its minutes by the next hearing.
However, Justice Abbasi told the dairy farmers that the court would see whether the consumers were being sold pure milk or not.
"No one will be allowed to sell substandard milk containing hazardous chemicals," he warned the officers concerned, fixing the matter for March 20.
In his plea, the petitioner said that the authorities concerned were fixing the prices of dairy products without following the procedure set under the Price Control and Prevention of Profiteering and Hoarding Act, 1977.
Loose milk to be sold at Rs85 per litre
He recalled that the high court had in August, 2016 directed the authorities concerned to form a mechanism to control and maintain the prices of dairy products. However, milk prices were increased in violation of the court's earlier order, he alleged.
The bench was informed that the court had directed on August 23, 2013 the city commissioner and others concerned to devise a mechanism to control and maintain the prices of dairy products, including milk. The petitioner alleged that the mafia had once again unilaterally and illegally increased the milk price in violation of the court's order.
Attempt to artificially inflate milk prices thwarted
Shahzad argued that the increase in the price of milk was unjust, given that the prices of petroleum products had been decreasing in international and local markets. He mentioned that the price of milk was fixed at Rs70 per litre, when the price of petrol was Rs110 per litre.
Pursuant to the court's earlier order, the petitioner said the commissioner had on April 9, 2012 notified the retail price of milk at Rs70 per litre, but the dairy farmers increased the rate to Rs84 per litre on the pretext of an increase in petroleum products' prices.
Shahzad added that later, the dairy farmers proposed to further increase the milk price to Rs94 per litre without any justification, as the fuel price had decreased.
He had pleaded to the court to order law enforcement agencies to launch a crackdown against the traders selling the commodity at exorbitant prices. A direction was also sought for the Rangers and police to ensure the sale of milk at reasonable prices.