While suspending notification about fixing ex-mill and retail sugar prices in the province on Wednesday the Lahore High Court directed provincial government to take sugar mill owners on board through deliberative consultation to determine one of the essential commodities prices for consumers.
Hike in sugar price
Punjab government has issued a notification about fixing the ex-mill and retail price of sugar at Rs80 and Rs85 respectively. Tandlianwala Sugar Mills Ltd, Noon Sugar Mills Ltd, and Ms. Macca Sugar Mills Pvt. Ltd have invoked the LHC jurisdiction over provincial government’s order of fixing the ex-mill sugar price at Rs80. Adjudicating the matter, a single-member bench of the Lahore High Court’ Justice Shahid Jamil Khan observed currently price hike is the most critical issue of the country.
“Under Article 18 of the Constitution, sugar mill owners have right to invoke court jurisdiction,” Justice Khan
The court suspended the notification about fixing the ex-mill and retail price of sugar. Mills counsel alleged the provincial government was making a dent in the reputation of his clients by leveling false allegations of hoarding. He informed the Industries Department deputed its officials in the mills to enforce the ex-mill price of sugar. The council opposed the notification saying the provincial government is not competent to enforce its prices to mills. On such ground, the lawyer urged the court to set aside the notification in the issue.
It is pertinent to mention that earlier the federal government has calculated ex-mill price of sugar at Rs80 per kilogram. So Directorate General Industries Punjab issued directives to commissioners and deputy commissioners to fix Rs85 per kg sugar retail price.
Proceedings of the matter
During the proceedings, the judge questioned whether provincial government ready to take the stakeholders on board over the price issue. Responding to the court query, an official of the ministry submitted the sugar mills didn’t respond to the ministry. “They have affirmed that they will come for a meeting. Sit with them and fix the price,” the judge said while addressing the Advocate General Punjab. “Under Article 18 of the Constitution, sugar mills owners have the right to bring the matter to the court”, the judge observed.
“You have to grant a subsidy if you will fix the price below the cost,” the bench said. Justice Khan observed that petitioners have challenged the government authority of fixing sugar prices at this very juncture of Ramadan. Upon which the Advocate General apprised the court that the concerned department has invited the sugar mills amid publishing advertisements in newspapers but they failed to pay heed in the matter.
Advocate General submitted that earlier sugar mills fixed the commodity price at Rs70 per kilogram with mutual agreement in Islamabad High Court. He further submitted that currently, sugar mills were not ready to sell the commodity at Rs85 per kilogram.
“Keep the Federal Board of Revenue’s data before you sit and decide the matter with mutual consultation,” the court directed. The bench also observed that presently price hike is the most critical issue of the country.
The writer heads a leading news wire service ‘The Law Today Pakistan’ commonly known as TLTP. He has a special focus on news relating to superior courts adjudication, access to right of information, civil, political, social and economic rights under the approach that existing cyber regime realization ensures procedural fairness in administrative law. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org