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Friday December 03, 2021

IHC questions govt on formation of sugar inquiry commission

Bench questions attorney general over legality of notification issued by interior ministry

By Web Desk
July 22, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court on Wednesday asked the federal government on what basis it had formed an inquiry commission regarding the increase in the sugar prices across the country.

The questions were raised by an IHC divisional bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb, hearing the intra-court appeal against the decision of single-member bench.

“What were the reasons behind the formation of the commission,” asked Justice Aurangzeb from the government at the start of the hearing. He added that the commission can only be formed if there is incompetence irresponsibility by the related authority.

To this, Attorney General Khalid Javed told the court that a commission can be formed if it is a matter of public interest.

“The notification regarding the formation of the commission was supposed to be issued by the cabinet division. How did the interior ministry issue it?” asked the court after Khalid Javed’s response.

“It was an innocent mistake that the interior ministry issued the notification,” the attorney general told the court and admitted that the notification should have been issued by the Cabinet Division.

“If your argument is accepted, the implications will be far-reaching,” said Justice Amir Farooq upon hearing the response of the government’s top lawyer. While Justice Aurangzeb remarked that if the argument is accepted then ministries will issue notifications and base their argument on what the attorney general told the court.

“There was no ill-intention involved in the issuing of the notification and the court can ignore this,” said Javed to the court questions.

“Are you trying to say that there was a mistake in the issuance of the notification by the government?” asked Justice Farooq.

The Pakistan Sugar Mills Association has filed an intra-court appeal against the inquiry report of sugar commission and requested the court to issue directives to stop action against them.

Earlier, another IHC bench had dismissed the sugar mills association plea against the inquiry commission report. The PSMA and 17 other mill owners including PTI leader Jahangir Tareen had challenged the report by the Sugar Inquiry Commission in the IHC, alleging that legal formalities were not fulfilled during the investigations conducted by the commission.

The commission, in its report, has accused the sugar mill owners of earning illegal profits amounting to billions of rupees through unjustified price hikes, benami transactions, tax evasion, suspicious sugar export deals, illegal power production, misuse of subsidy and purchasing sugarcane off the books.