Mill owners not selling sugar at Rs70 per kg, IHC told

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Lawyer says govt has no objection if court allows farmers to become a party in this matter. — AFP/File
Lawyer says govt has no objection if court allows farmers to become a party in this matter. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The federal government on Monday informed the Islamabad High Court (IHC) that sugar mills were not complying with the condition of selling the commodity at Rs70 per kg to non-commercial consumers, hence, proceedings against them as recommended by the inquiry commission could not be stayed.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah on June 11 granted stay order against the recommendation of the inquiry commission on sugar scam that urged registration of criminal cases against sugar mill owners on the condition that they would supply the commodity to the common man at the rate of Rs70 per kg till June 25.

The petitioners included the Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA), sugar mills owned by Jahangir Khan Tareen and his son Ali Khan Tareen, Suleman Shahbaz Sharif, the son of opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif, Makhdoom Omer Shehryar, brother of federal Minister for Economic Affairs Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader Sardar Ali Raza Khan Dreshak and others.

According to the report of the commission, Pakistan exported more than four million tonnes of sugar over the past five years and more than Rs29 billion had been given to sugar mills in terms of export subsidy.

Lawyer says govt has no objection if court allows farmers to become a party in this matter

The court on Monday took up a petition filed by sugarcane farmers who intended to become party in this case.

Additional Attorney General Tariq Mehmood Khokhar told the court that the government had no objection if the court would allow the farmers to become a party in this matter.

He then informed the court that the sugar mills were not fulfilling the condition set by the court while granting them interim relief till June 25.

He said that on the contrary the price of the commodity had also been increased as the sugar mafia created an artificial shortage in the market.

Mr Khokhar requested the court to hear this case as early as possible.

While Justice Minallah was willing to hear this case on June 17, Mr Khokhar suggested that this might be fixed for June 19.

The court accepted his request and suggested that in case the counsel of sugar industry could not attend the proceeding in the IHC, he might join the hearing via a video link from Karachi.

Published in Dawn, June 16th, 2020