LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Monday suspended the operation of the notices issued by the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) to the sugar mills for alleged manipulation of price of the commodity through cartelisation.

Justice Ayesha A. Malik passed the stay order on petitions of eight mills including JDW Sugar Mills of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s ‘estranged’ leader Jahangir Khan Tareen.

On behalf of the mills, Advocate Shehzad Elahi argued that a four-member bench of the CCP was equally divided on the question of alleged cartelisation by the sugar mills and there was no consensus decision. However, he said, the chairman of the CCP exercised his casting vote and turned the decision into majority leading to imposition of penalty on the mills.

The counsel argued that the act of the commission’s chairman was in sheer violation of the law.

He said the proceedings before the CCP bench were quasi-judicial in nature and the chairman could not use his casting vote to change its decision.

The counsel asked the court to set aside the impugned notices for being unlawful and unconstitutional.

The judge suspended the operations of the impugned notices and sought replies from the respondents by Nov 30.

Justice Jawad Hassan of the LHC also passed a similar stay order on a set of petitions filed by Hunza Sugar Mills and others.

RED ZONE: Justice Jawad Hassan of the Lahore High Court on Monday directed the Punjab government to ensure presentation of the draft of a bill for legislation to declare Mall Road a red zone before the cabinet at the earliest.

The judge issued the direction disposing of a civil miscellaneous application filed by Judicial Activism Panel (JAP) questioning the delay in passing the law despite repeated orders by the court.

JAP’s counsel Azhar Siddique argued that the government’s failure to make the legislation amounted to contempt of court. He said Charing Cross on The Mall had been closed for traffic for over a week due to a prolonged sit-in by the visually challenged persons.

Under the proposed law, the government would be empowered to declare a specific area as a red zone and public gatherings, rallies and sit-ins would be banned. Places would be earmarked for public gatherings etc.

The law would also entail punishment up to five-year imprisonment and a fine up to Rs1 million for violation.

Published in Dawn, October 19th, 2021

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