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September 10, 2020

Challenge to FIA sugar inquiries: LHC seeks detailed replies from federal govt

National

September 10, 2020

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Wednesday sought detailed replies from the federal government on petitions by the Al-Arabia Sugar Mills of PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif's family and the Faruki Pulp Mills of Jahangir Tareen, challenging inquiries by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in light of the Sugar Inquiry Commission's report.

Justice Sajid Mahmood Sethi refrained from passing an interim order after a federal law officer undertook that the administrations of the petitioners/companies would not be summoned or coerced by the agency till the next hearing on September 18.

Both the mills filed the petitions through their company secretaries, pleading that the action being taken by the FIA was illegal as it was ordered by the federal cabinet despite having no such jurisdiction. They said the whole process including the constitution of the Sugar Inquiry Commission and subsequent proceedings by the FIA and the Securities & Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) had been done on the direction of Mirza Shahzad Akbar, special assistant to prime minister on accountability and interior.

The petitions said the federal cabinet also ordered action against the sugar mills in light of the commission's inquiry report. It was further contended that the cabinet had no jurisdiction to hold any individual or organization guilty of any alleged offence. The impugned inquiries were in violation of the SECP Act, the Companies Act, the Income Tax Ordinance and the Sales Tax Act.

The petitions argued that the FIA could initiate its proceedings only on a reference sent by the SECP. They argued that an inquiry being held on the order of the federal government could not be transparent and impartial. The act of the FIA was also in violation of a Sindh High Court judgment, added the petitions asking the court to set aside the all impugned actions by the FIA for having been undertaken and issued without lawful authority.