LAHORE - Justice Ayesha A Malik of the Lahore High Court yesterday suspended two notifications of the Punjab government issued by the industries secretary regarding the shifting of four sugar mills owned by close relatives of the prime minister and the Punjab chief minister from their existing locations to other districts.
The sugar mills include Ittefaq Sugar Mills, Sahiwal, Haseeb Waqas Sugar Mills, Nankana Sahib, Abdullah (Yousaf) Sugar Mills, Sargodha, and Abdullah Sugar Mills, Depalpur.
Justice Malik passed this order on a petition filed by M/s JD Sugar Mills and its shareholder Maqsood Ahmad Malhi.
The judge also ordered the authorities to maintain the status quo with respect to shifting or relocation of these sugar mills to Bahawalpur, Muzaffargarh, Rajanpur, Rahim Yar Khan or elsewhere in the Punjab.
The judge ordered the law officers to ensure compliance of the orders. The court adjourned further hearing until January 25, with the directions to the federal and Punjab governments to submit replies on the next hearing.
Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan appeared before the court on behalf of the petitioners and contended that on Dec 4, 2015, the Punjab industries secretary had issued the impugned orders with mala fide intention to facilitate the close relatives of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to shift their sugar mills to the places of their desired locations.
He argued that Section 3 of the Punjab Industries (Control on Establishment and Enlargement) Ordinance, barred establishment of industrial undertaking as well as enlargement without the provincial government’s permission. He pleaded that a number of sugar mills were barred previously under this section.
Aitzaz contended that these mills had built the new premises in Bahawalpur, Muzaffargarh, Rajanpur and Rahim Yar Khan and had now commenced the crushing. It was an unjustified act of the government. These new mills had been constructed without any permission from the government, he told the court. He said the court had already upheld the ban on relocation.
Aitzaz said relocation of sugar mills amounted to establishment of new ones. He submitted that there was no justification for changing the location policy because in 2011 the chief minister had rejected all requests for relocation of sugar mills in the national interest and even in 2015 the Punjab government had reiterated its position that the shifting of a sugar mill amounted to establishment of a new one, which was against the law. He prayed to the court to declare the relocation or these four sugar mills unlawful and prevent them from doing so.
To a question on the reservations expressed by the KP chief minister on the facilities provided in the CPEC route in his province, the minister said he would himself talk to Khattak to make him understand the technical aspects of the route. As to the KP grievance over optic fibre on the route to CPEC, he said it was not mandatory to operate Internet.
The minister appreciated positive statements of PPP President Asif Ali Zardari.