Federal Minister for Law and Justice Dr Farogh Naseem on Sunday said that severe punishments will be meted out to hoarders as the country's battle against Covid-19 intensifies.
"Anyone who is involved in hoarding will face severe punishments. As per our ordinance, it will be a criminal offence to be involved in hoarding. The perpetrator will face three years in jail, summary trials, heavy fines of up to 50 per cent, confiscations and more," the law minister stated.
He made these remarks during a press briefing as he announced that the law ministry has prepared an ordinance on hoarding, on the instructions of Prime Minister Imran Khan, to curb the shortage of essentials during the coronavirus pandemic.
"The ordinance has been sent to the prime minister. His office is vetting it at the moment. We will release it by Monday or Tuesday, and it will then be codified into law after legislation," Naseem shared.
The law minister also revealed that an anti-smuggling ordinance will also be introduced in parliament soon.
"As per this (anti-smuggling) ordinance, we will primarily target undeclared routes for smuggling of foreign currencies and essential commodities such as sugar, wheat and medicines," Naseem explained.
The law minister also said that the eventual parliamentary act will contain checks and balances to assist the government in implementation of the law.
"Our district administrations have information about these things. The bill will let us coordinate with district administrations and customs staff around the country to identify these individuals. At the same time, if this work isn't done by relevant authorities, the Law Secretary will summon them by issuing a dereliction report — which will then be forwarded to their departments for further disciplinary action," Naseem said, adding that this system of checks and balances will compel authorities to take their responsibilities seriously.
Prime Minister Imran Khan had recently revealed that ordinances to criminalise hoarding and smuggling would soon be released. He had also directed law enforcement agencies to seek assistance of the country’s spy agencies in curbing the menace of hoarding and smuggling.
“Strict action should be taken against those involved in smuggling and hoarding of essential items,” Prime Minister Imran had said while presiding over a high-level meeting. He had said that hoarding and price-hike would intensify the miseries of the poor people who had been badly affected by the current situation.