LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tuesday censured the Punjab government for making citizens stand in long queues to buy sugar at subsidised rate at Ramazan bazaars.
“The government has turned the people (into) beggars in the name of Rs15 discount on sugar price,” Justice Shahid Jamil Khan regretted while hearing petitions of sugar mills against the government’s decision of fixing the ex-mill price of the commodity at Rs80.
The judge observed that making people stand in long queues for purchasing sugar was against their dignity and self-respect.
He remarked that under Article 14 of the Constitution the dignity of man, subject to law, shall be inviolable.
Judge directs government to ensure that people get the commodity at subsidised price without standing in long queues
Since the dignity of a citizen was inviolable under the Constitution, therefore, lining up the people to purchase sugar at subsidised rate on any pretext was against command of the Constitution, the judge said.
Justice Khan directed the government to discontinue the practice and ensure that the people got subsidised sugar without standing in long queues.
The provincial law officer sought time to submit an undertaking on behalf of the government and the judge adjourned the hearing of the case till Wednesday.
Earlier, the cane commissioner assured the court that sugar would be lifted from the mills through registered dealers.
The judge ordered the cane commissioner to ensure that 155,000 metric tonnes of sugar was supplied to domestic consumers and the commodity was available on all retail shops.
The cane commissioner told the court that the matter fell in the domain of director general of industries, who, when asked by the court, could not respond satisfactorily except by saying that all the concerned had been informed.
The law officer said the industries department and all deputy commissioners were responsible for controlling the price of all commodities.
The judge sought an undertaking in writing from the secretary, the director general of industries and the additional chief secretary on behalf of all deputy commissioners in Punjab that sugar being lifted as per the court order shall be available at Rs85 per kg in all retail outlets in the province. The court had temporarily allowed the government to lift sugar from the mills at the rate of Rs80 per kg to meet the demand during the holy month of Ramazan.
Published in Dawn, April 21st, 2021