Representational image. PHOTO: REUTERS

Hoarding and price-gouging: SHC issues show-cause notice to Bureau of Supply and Prices official

Orders implementation of Sindh Registration of Godowns Act, 1995, in the province

​ Our Correspondent March 19, 2020
KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) issued on Wednesday a show-cause notice to the assistant director of the Bureau of Supply and Prices over a plea pertaining to hoarding hand sanitisers and selling them at inflated rates.

Moreover, it ordered the relevant authorities to ensure that the Sindh Registration of Godowns Act, 1995, was implemented in the province.

During the hearing, the petitioner maintained before a two-member bench, comprising Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Yousuf Ali Sayeed, that sanitisers were no longer available in Karachi.

At this, Justice Mazhar, however, remarked that it was not that sanitisers were unavailable but they were being sold at increased prices.

The counsel for the petitioner further informed the court that police had conducted multiple raids against hoarders, stating that they were not permitted to store essential items in warehouses under the Sindh Registration of Godowns Act, 1995. "The act is not being implemented in Sindh," he complained.

He said that the country was in a state of panic following the coronavirus outbreak but some "evil elements" were hoarding sanitisers and had stored them in warehouses.

At this, the court asked the counsel to identify warehouses where sanitisers were being stored so that police could be ordered to conduct raids at specified locations and confiscate sanitisers.

It also asked whether the Sindh government had appointed a sessions judge on the matter yet.

"No sessions judge has been appointed yet," the counsel informed the court, adding that the Rangers, however, had conducted raids against persons hoarding surgical masks and sanitisers over the past few days.

The court sought a reply from the Sindh government on why no sessions judge had been appointed on the matter yet and issued a show-cause notice to the assistant director of the Bureau of Supply and Prices, directing him to ensure attendance at the next hearing on April 7. It also ordered the implementation of Sindh Registration of Godowns Act, 1995.

Plea against PPP ministers

The bench also issued a notice to Sindh Education Minister Saeed Ghani over the failure to submit a reply on a plea seeking his qualification as well as that of Sindh Energy Minister Imtiaz Shaikh. The bench also summoned Shikarpur SSP Dr Rizwan at the next hearing of the plea.

While the SSP appeared before the court and submitted a reply on the plea, in addition to details of the case registered against Shaikh's personal assistant, the ministers did not attend the hearing, at which the court expressed annoyance.

At the hearing, the SSP maintained before the court that Shaikh's brother was involved in robbing a polio worker, according to evidence collected during the case's investigation.

He said that crime was on the rise in Shikarpur and criminals in the area were operating under Shaikh's patronage. The minister was using his 'criminal wing' against his opponents and exercised power to influence police transfers, he added.

Later, Shaikh's counsel submitted a power of attorney to the court.

Issuing a notice to Ghani over his failure to submit a reply on the plea, the court summoned Shikarpur SSP and sought replies from parties at the next hearing on April 8.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 19th, 2020.


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