ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday refused to issue a stay order against the Lahore High Court’s (LHC) order of relocating three sugar mills owned by the Sharif family.
The Punjab government in December 2006 had barred the expansion of existing mills and establishment of new ones through a notification. The prescription also included the relocation of mills.
However in 2015, during the PML-N’s third year in power, the provincial government amended the notification
— allowing relocation once again which was closely followed by the relocation of Chaudhry Sugar Mills to Rahim Yar Khan, Haseeb Waqas Sugar Mills to Muzaffargarh and Ittefaq Sugar Mills to Bahawalpur.
A year later in 2016, former Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) secretary general Jahangir Tareen challenged the relocation of mills in the LHC.
In Septemeber 2017, the LHC acting on Jahangir Tareen’s petition termed the relocations illegal and ordered the respective owners to return to their previous locations within three months. Not long after that, the LHC’s order was challenged by mill owners in the apex court.
A three-member bench headed by Pakistan Chief Justice (CJP), Mian Saqib Nisar has been hearing the case. Affected most by this order, representatives of cane growers and counsels who work for the mills owned by the Sharif family had informed the bench that growers have been unable to sell their produce due to the suspension of sugar mills’ operations and hence, requested the CJP to issue a stay on the LHC’s order so that the mills can resume crushing.
Defence lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan who is Tareen’s representative had, however, insisted on the reversal of relocations as per the LHC’s verdict.
Aitzaz has suggested two options to resolve the matter: either the cane is crushed after paying a commission to crushers, or that Tareen is allowed to buy the growers’ produce.
The chief justice has decided to hold in-chamber hearings on the petition every day until the cane growers conundrum is put to rest. He has also asked the defence to submit his detailed recommendations for a resolution of the matter.
The next hearing is scheduled for January 11.