ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Thursday rejected the federal government’s petition challenging the Sindh High Court (SHC) decision which prevented it from taking action against sugar mill owners in the light of recommendations by Sugar Inquiry Commission report.
A two-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed took up the federal government’s appeal challenging the Sindh High Court’s June 23 stay order.
The apex court ordered to maintain the SHC verdict till the next hearing. Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed said in his remarks that sugar mills will not be benefited even if the report is nullified and the regulatory institutions cannot be barred from working.
Justice Ijazul Ahsan inquired that whether the SHC has been apprised of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) decision which it gave over the case. Attorney General Khalid Jawed Khan said the verdict has been mentioned in the petition filed by sugar millers but not in the SHC interim order.
He went on to say that many allegations have been leveled against mill owners in the inquiry report. The chief justice asked should the commission not have given an opportunity to sugar millers to give their viewpoint, to which the attorney general replied that there was no need to present their stance before the fact-finding commission.
Justice Ijazul Ahsan asked if any action was taken on the commission’s report. The attorney general told the court that some sugar millers moved the Peshawar High Court (PHC) and some filed petition in the Balochistan High Court (BHC) as they do not want the authorities to take action over the report.
The chief justice remarked that it is just a commission report, why do they want to stay order over it. Sugar millers’ counsel Makhdoom Ali Khan maintained that it is not unusual that high courts were moved. Justice Ijazul Ahsan said those mill owners who lodged petition in the SHC also move the IHC. How can one association go to two high courts?
Makhdoom Ali Khan said it should be examined whether the commission was made according to the law and whether it was neutral. Courts can intervene if these matters were not taken care of, he added.
Justice Gulzar Ahmed inquired about the reservations of sugar millers. Makhdoom Ali Khan said the Sugar Mills Association contacted the IHC in a personal capacity, only recommendations have been given in the report and those who have been mentioned in it can file a petition.
Justice Ijazul Ahsan remarked, “The commission has apparently given a fact-finding report, and pointed out deals along with other things. The report has been forwarded to concerned departments. Sugar millers should present their viewpoint if these departments send them show-cause notice.
“There was a commotion in the entire country when sugar prices were increased. If the report is nullified on your request, all institutions will be back to square one and the matter would take ten years to get resolved. It is a big issue that is affecting people.”
The hearing was adjourned till July 14.