IHC hints at vacating stay order on sugar report

AAG apprises court PSMA not selling sugar at Rs70 per kilo to markets


Saqib Bashir June 16, 2020
Reuters file photo of sugar

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has hinted at lifting the stay order barring the government from taking action against the sugar mill owners on the inquiry commission’s report after the Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA) refused to supply the commodity to markets across the country at Rs70 per kilo despite the court’s orders.

Chief Justice Athar Minallah heard the sugar commission case on Monday and sought the implementation report on the court’s orders to sell sugar to the masses at Rs70 per kilo from Additional Attorney General Tariq Khokar.

The AAG replied, “Talks between the government and the PSMA on the matter are under way but sugar is not available in the market at Rs70 per kilo.”

CJ Minallah remarked, “The stay order is conditional with sugar being provided to the masses at reduced rates. The hearing of the case can be held sooner.”

Minallah remarked that the court could not fix the prices if they were not regulated by the authorities, adding that it was the duty of the executive to ensure that the court’s orders were followed.

Khokar asked, “Is the restraining order over?”

The chief justice remarked, “There is no use of the restraining order if it did not comply under the given conditions.”

The court, after no objection from the federation, accepted the petition of a sugarcane farmer from Rahim Yar Khan to be made a party to the case.

The AAG requested the court to fix the next date of hearing on June 19, saying that the attorney general for Pakistan would be present before the court during the proceedings on that day.

The court adjourned the hearing for June 19.

PSMA refuses to supply sugar at Rs63 per kilo to USC

The PSMA on Sunday refused to supply sugar to Utility Stores at Rs63 per kilo as recommended by the government, saying that the recommendation had no legal standing.

On Saturday, the Ministry of Industries and Production had written a letter to the PSMA in line with the IHC order to supply sugar to the USC at reduced rates.

The ministry had said that the PSMA should provide sugar to the USC at Rs63 per kilo so that it could sell the commodity at Rs70 per kilo to the masses, as directed by the IHC.

The PSMA, in a written response, said that it was ready to sell sugar at Rs70 per kilo to the masses and about 60,000 tonnes of the commodity would be delivered to the markets.

The case

On June 10, the PSMA and 17 other mill owners – including PTI stalwart Jahangir Khan Tareen – challenged the inquiry commission report in the IHC, alleging that legal formalities were not fulfilled during investigations.

In its report, the commission accused the sugar mill owners of earning illegal profits to the tune of tens of billions of rupees through unjustified price hikes, benami transactions, tax evasion, misuse of subsidy and purchasing sugarcane off the books.

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