–Justice Nisar says court will not allow mills to operate ‘even if we have to organise a fund to compensate farmers’
ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Monday said that the sugar mills owned by the Sharif family in South Punjab will not open “come what may”.
The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday rejected the petitions filed by growers for the reopening of three relocated sugar mills namely Chaudhry Sugar Mills to Rahim Yar Khan, Haseeb Waqas Sugar Mills to Muzaffargarh and Ittefaq Sugar Mills to Bahawalpur.
Farmers approached the apex court to allow crushing of sugarcane for the current season after the Lahore High Court (LHC) had declared the relocation illegal and ordered that the owners of the mills return them to their previous locations within three months, having observed that the Sharif family had illegally relocated the mills.
The order came in a case filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) Jahangir Tareen, where he challenged the relocation.
In their petition, the farmers said that the season’s crop will be wasted if the mills are not allowed to operate. However, the top court had turned down their request and directed owners of five other sugar mills to buy the crop instead.
The five sugar mills owners, including Tareen, had given undertaking that they would lift all the sugarcane from three districts at the price of Rs180 per 40kg. However, dissatisfied with the arrangement, the growers pointed out that the mills do not have the capacity to crush the amount of sugarcane in the area.
Justice Nisar maintained that the court will not allow the mills to operate “even if we have to organise a fund to compensate the farmers”. He observed that the banned sugar mills may be creating hurdles for the farmers, adding that they should compensate the farmers.
The CJP questioned the nexus between Punjab government and the banned mills and expressed annoyance over the local administration’s failure to resolve the issue.
“Either you are incompetent or partisan,” Justice Nisar told the Rahim Yar Khan district coordination officer (DCO). “You are flaring up the situation and creating problems for the farmers,” he added.
Justice Nisar also said that the court’s priority was to not let the poor farmers suffer.
The three-member bench directed representatives of the five sugar mills to formulate a proposal for the buying and selling of sugarcane crops and present it to the top court. The SC will supervise buying and selling of the crop.
The court adjourned hearing until February 21.