KARACHI: Legal wrangling over the fixing of fresh milk’s price appeared to take a final turn on Tuesday when the Sindh High Court directed the city commissioner to notify dairy products’ prices within 10 days as the retailers asked the court to set the price of the daily-use commodity at Rs98 per litre.

Headed by Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi, a two-judge bench was hearing a petition filed by Muhammad Imran Shehzad, a civil rights campaigner, who had approached the court for reduction of rates of dairy products and formation of a task force to regulate their prices.

On Tuesday, Commissioner Ejaz Ahmed informed the judges that after several meetings held among all stakeholders, including dairy farmers, retailers and the administration, for setting a mechanism for price fixing, it was decided that milk would be sold at Rs95 a litre. However, he said, retailers later refused to accept that price, and sought a further increase.

SHC asks all stakeholders to make reasonable profits

The commissioner said that retailers wanted to sell milk at a further increased price.

Justice Abbasi asked if it was possible that dairy farmers could directly provide milk to the consumers without involving retailers.

He said the bench members knew that milk was being sold at Rs100 per litre in parts of the city. He further remarked that everybody seemed busy in making profits out of it.

Petitioner Shehzad said milk had been sold at Rs95 per litre for the past two months.

The bench asked all stakeholders to make reasonable profits so as to provide relief to the common man.

The lawyer appearing for the retailers requested the court to increase their profit by decreasing the same of wholesalers. They asked the court to set milk price at Rs98 per litre.

The retailers informed the judges that they were getting milk at Rs84 per litre from the wholesalers and at least Rs10 was added to the price due to other miscellaneous expenditure.

They said they just wanted a fair price of milk, and added that the prices of dairy products should be increased annually.

Directing the Karachi commissioner to issue a fresh notification of dairy product prices within 10 days, the court put off the hearing to a date to be later pronounced by the court’s office.

Earlier, the petitioner had informed the court that authorities concerned were unable to ensure selling of milk at the administration’s fixed prices, adding that dairy products were not being sold under the Price Control and Prevention of Profiteering and Hoarding Act, 1977.

According to the petitioner, the SHC in August 2016 directed the authorities concerned to form a mechanism to control and maintain the prices of dairy products. However, the milk prices were increased in violation of the court’s earlier order.

The petitioner asked the court to direct the law enforcement agencies, including Rangers and police, to ensure the sale of milk at reasonable prices.

Board discharged

Sindh High Court Chief Justice Ahmed Ali M. Shaikh on Tuesday discharged the board to condole the death of Larkana District Bar’s former president and Pakistan Peoples Party MNA Ayaz Soomro.

Mr Soomro, who also served as the Sindh law minister, had been suffering from a heart disease for the last several months and died on Tuesday in a hospital in Manhattan, United States.

Learning about Mr Soomro’s death, the chief justice discharged the board; however, the hearings of important cases were conducted in the judges’ chambers.

Published in Dawn, March 21st, 2018

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