Twelve sugar mills will not be investigated by the sugar commission as the Supreme Court upheld on Thursday the Sindh High Court’s June 22 verdict granting them protection from the inquiry.
A two-member bench heard the federal government’s appeal against the high court’s order.
Attorney-General Khalid Jawed Khan argued that the high court doesn’t have the jurisdiction to stop the investigation. He also asked how sugar mill owners approached the Sindh High Court after the Islamabad High Court ruled on June 20 that all mills will be investigated by the committee.
The Supreme Court, however, dismissed the attorney-general’s petition. It said that a two-member bench of the top court can’t rule on the case because the order has been given by a two-member bench, comprising Justice Omar Sial and Justice Zulfiqar Ali Sangi, of the Sindh High Court. The case will be once again taken up on July 14 by a three-member bench of the Supreme Court.
The attorney-general remarked that 12 sugar mills were granted protection by the Sindh court so all other mills can still be investigated. There are a total of 93 sugar mills in Pakistan, to read more about them click here.
During the hearing, the court inquired how the commission report affects the sugar mill owners. “Do you want us to declare the report null and void?” asked a judge. The findings of the report cannot stay hidden and action is being taken by all regulatory authorities in the case, he said.
The sugar inquiry report was issued on May 21, 2020. It revealed the way sugar barons had cheated farmers, benefited from subsidies and created conditions so that the price of sugar could go up. PTI’s Jahangir Tareen was among the ones accused of benefitting the most from the crisis. The report said that six major groups control 51% of the total sugar production. Tareen’s JDW mill has the biggest share that is 20% of the total production.