The Sindh High Court on Thursday directed edible oil distributors to submit details of edible oil purchase from certified factories and other relevant trade documents.
The direction came on a petition against the powers of the safety officers, a crackdown on distributors of edible oil, and the sealing of godowns in different parts of the city. A division bench, headed by Chief Justice Ahmed Ali M Sheikh, inquired the petitioners’ counsel whether the petitioners purchased edible oil and ghee from other factories or themselves manufactured the products.
The counsel said the petitioners had purchased oil and ghee from different factories and sold them to retailers. The court observed that the petitioners had to produce proper documents with regard to the purchase of edible oil from the factories.
The Sindh Food Authority’s counsel submitted that godwons were sealed over the selling of open edible oil and ghee without giving proper details of manufacturing companies. The court directed the petitioners’ counsel to produce the documents with regard to the purchase of edible oil from certified oil factories on the next date of hearing.
The edible oil dealers have challenged the powers of the food safety officers under the Sindh Food Authority Act 2016. The petitioners submitted that the food authority had issued a notification imposing a ban on certain food items, including edible oil and ghee, and in the name of that notification, safety officers were time and again conducting raids on their shops and godowns.
They submitted that they obtained oil and ghee from licensed companies that were certified and cleared by the Pakistan Standard Quality Control Authority and the respondents had themselves issued valid licences to them for manufacturing, selling and distributing such edible oil and ghee.
The petitioners’ counsel, Yaseen Azad, submitted that the Supreme Court had recently passed an order and declared that an identical section 13 (1) of the Punjab Food Authority Act and powers of sealing premises by the food security officers were unconstitutional and illegal.
He submitted that the impugned notification with regard to the ban on sale of loose edible oil and ghee was issued without any lawful authority. The high court was requested to declare Section 17 of the Sindh Food Authority to be ultra vires to the constitution. The petitioners also sought cancellation of the Sindh Food Authority’s notification.
The Sindh High Court on Thursday directed the Election Commission of Pakistan, and federal and provincial law officers to file comments on a petition filed by the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf that challenged deferment of second phase of local bodies elections by the ECP.
PTI candidate for a local bodies election Ashraf Jabbar Qureshi submitted in the petition that the ECP had notified the second phase of the LG elections on July 24 for which he had filed his nomination papers.
He said the SHC had earlier dismissed petitions seeking postponement of the second phase of the polls, and the ECP had argued that holding of the polls within 120 days was a mandatory requirement of the constitution.
He said the ECP had argued that 27,000 candidates were contesting the LG polls, 30 million ballot papers had been printed and an amount of Rs500 million had already been spent; therefore, no case of delaying the polls had been made out.
The PTI candidate submitted that the provincial election commissioner, despite the ECP’s stand on to the second phase of the local bodies polls, issued a letter stating that the elections could not be held on July 24 on account of a forecast of thunderstorm and torrential rains in Karachi and Hyderabad on July 23, 24 and 25. He said the ECP postponed the elections and announced that now they would be held on August 28.
He submitted that the postponement of polls was a violation of a high court judgment. He alleged that the delay was being caused with a mala fide intention as the ECP in connivance of the ruling party and its coalition partners were trying to postpone the elections. He submitted that the ballot papers had been printed and there was no information of the placement of the printed ballot papers in safe custody.
He submitted that the LG elections could not be delayed for more than one month and it would not only cause a potential loss of millions to the ECP, but it would also cause a huge loss to the candidates.
The PTI candidate alleged that the delay and postponement of the elections was done with the purpose of rigging in the elections. The court was requested to suspend the operation of the ECP letter with regard to the postponement of the elections, direct the ECP to submit the printed ballot papers to a court official, and announce a new schedule.
The counsel for the federal and provincial governments sought time to file comments on the petition. The court directed the ECP and other respondents to file their comments by August 22.
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