SHC summons agriculture secretary over non-payment of farmers’ dues

Sugarcane growers complain of non-payment despite court order


Our Correspondent October 23, 2018
Sugarcane growers complain of non-payment despite court order. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC), expressing displeasure with the performance of the Cane Commissioner over non-payment of dues to sugarcane cultivators, ordered the agriculture secretary to ensure his presence at the next hearing next week. A two-member bench headed by Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar heard the case.

The cultivators have alleged that they had been exploited and looted. They claimed that firstly they had to sell their products at low rates and then they weren't even paid the money owed to them.

Justice Mazhar said that the court was aware of the situation and it wants to constitute a high-level investigation committee on look into the matter.

The petitioners' lawyer argued that there were more than 1,000 complaints of non-payment and added that despite a court order, the dues had not been cleared.

The court remarked that the cane commissioner was presenting the same report every time.

Harassing suspect

The SHC ordered the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to stop harassing Tahir Mehmood, a companion of Anwar Majeed who is the prime suspect in a money laundering case. A two-member bench heard the plea.

Representatives of the FIA, federation and other institutions appeared before the court.

Mehmood's lawyer, Kashif Hanif Paracha, argued that despite cooperating with the FIA, the agency continued to harass his client and just two weeks ago, they raided his office. The FIA officer argued that Mehmood was not cooperating.

The court ordered the FIA not to harass Mehmood and ordered the petitioner to cooperate with the FIA. The hearing was postponed till December 4.

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Reduction of forest cover

After receiving replies from the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) and the forestry department in a case pertaining to logging and reduction of forest cover, the SHC granted time to the environment department and other respondents to submit their replies. A two-member bench heard the petition.

The KMC in its reply claimed that it was planting thousands of trees annually in parks and greenbelts. The department of forestry said that steps were being taken to extend the forest cover.

The petitioner, Agha Ataullah Shah, argued that the forest cover in Sindh had reduced from 17% to 4%.

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Extorting money

The SHC issued notices to the National Highway Authority (NHA) and others in the case regarding officials extorting money from truck drivers on the M9 Highway. A two-member bench heard the petition filed by the All Truck Owners Association.

The petitioner's lawyer argued that officials, claiming the trucks are overloaded, extort heavy sums of money from the drivers on M9 and Super Highway. He said that usually, sand is loaded on the trucks and it is taken down if the bribe is not paid. The sand is then used by the police or sold. The court issued notices to the respondents and summoned a reply by November 10.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 23rd, 2018.

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