ISLAMABAD: The Chief Justice of Pakistan, Mian Saqib Nisar, observed on Wednesday if Jehangir Tareen did not give a plan to purchase sugarcane from the growers by today (Thursday), he would operationalise the sugar mills of Sharifs. He also observed that he would not allow loss to farmers in this regard.
The Supreme Court (SC) sought a response from Jamalud Din Wali (JDW), a sugar mills owned by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Jehangir Tareen for purchasing sugarcane from growers.
A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, heard an appeal filed by the farmers’ body CPLA against the Lahore High Court (LHC) verdict that declared relocation of three sugar mills of the Sharif family to southern Punjab, illegal. The Pakistan Kissan Ittehad had filed a Civil Petition for Leave to Appeal (CPLA) through the Pakistan Bar Council Vice Chairman Muhammad Ahsan Bhoon. They had prayed for suspending the operation of the Lahore High Court verdict in the matter.
The court directed Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, counsel for JWD Sugar Mills, owned by PTI leader Jehangir Tareen, to come up with a viable proposal today (Thursday) showing that Mr Tareen is ready to purchase sugarcane from the growers in the vicinity, otherwise the court might accept the farmers’ plea in the matter.
Last year in September, the learned Lahore High Court had declared the relocation of Sharif family mills illegal, including Chaudhry Sugar Mills, Ittefaq Sugar Mills, Haseeb Waqas Sugar Mills, and Abdullah Sugar Mills.
On Wednesday, the counsel for the Sharif family sugar mills apprised the court that his client’s sugar mills were not operational whereas the Lahore High Court had asked to relocate the mills from southern Punjab.
The chief justice, however, observed that if the mills were installed illegally, they would have to be shifted from the area. Besides, the chief justice also rejected the plea of the counsel to suspend the Lahore High Court verdict till the final decision of the CPLA in hand.
The farmers’ body, Pakistan Kissan Ittehad, while challenging the Lahore High Court verdict in the matter termed the high court decision detrimental to the financial interests of the sugarcane growers, its crushing and processing and is consequently contrary to the national interests. The LHC verdict did not consider that the farmers were able to cultivate a cash crop, which enabled them to create a food basket in the which contributes greatly to Pakistan's economy as well as rural development, the petitioner contended.
The Kissan Ithead contended that they should not have to bear the losses as a result of a ban on relocation simply because the three industries may have acted in a mala fide manner. Similarly, it also claimed that the learned high court verdict had strangulated the principle of competition within an industry, adding the verdict of the high court failed to take into consideration that by striking down the relocation policy, it had drastically affected the growth of a cash crop and decimated standing crops on land that would otherwise be very poorly utilised.
The petitioner while terming relocation of sugar mills policy well-structured and reasonable, alleged the Lahore High Court verdict was tantamount to a violation of their fundamental rights under Article 25 of the Constitution of Pakistan.
It contended that the impugned judgment had failed to read Clauses 5 and 8 of the Relocation Policy harmoniously and had thereby arrived at a finding of inconsistency and conflict that in fact did not exist either between the various provisions of the notification of 04.12.2015 or between the said notification and Section 3 of the Ordinance of 1963. Meanwhile, the court adjourned the hearing for today (Thursday).