ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court Wednesday sought the JDW Sugar Mills’ response by today (Thursday) asking whether it is ready to purchase sugarcane from farmers at Rs180 per maund or not.

Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar said if the JDW Sugar Mills will not accept the court's proposal then they will allow farmers’ appeal.

The Pakistan Kissan Ittehad has filed an appeal against the Lahore High Court’s verdict.

The LHC in September last year declared relocation of three sugar mills of Sharif family - Chaudhry, Haseeb, Abdullah and Ittefaq - from central Punjab to southern Punjab illegal.

Appearing before a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, counsel for Sharif family sugar mills , apprised the court that his client’s sugar mills were not operational as the Lahore High Court asked to relocate the mills from southern Punjab.

The Chief Justice said that if the mills were installed illegally then such mills would be shifted from the area. He rejected the plea of the counsel to suspend the Lahore High Court’s verdict till final decision.

Challenging the Lahore High Court verdict in the matter, the farmers body termed high court’s decision detrimental to the economics of sugarcane growth, crushing and processing and is consequently contrary to national interest.

The petitioner said that the verdict did not consider that farmers were able to cultivate a cash crop which enabled them to create a food basket in rural areas on otherwise vacant land and whether this is a crop which contributes greatly to the Pakistan’s economy as well as rural development.

The farmers' body further said that the petitioners should not have to bear the losses as a result of a ban on relocation simply because three industries may have acted in a mala fide manner.

It claimed that the high court verdict has strangulated the principle of competition within industry, adding verdict of the high court failed to take into consideration that by striking down relocation policy, it had drastically affected growth of a cash crop and decimated standing crops on land that would otherwise be very poorly utilised.

The Pakistan Kissan Ittehad said that Relocation Policy promoted equality and equal opportunity and was not discriminatory in any respect, saying they no longer have sugar mills in close proximity and will be unable to gain the same profit that is afforded to other cane growers in the area.

Terming Relocation of Sugar Mills Policy well structured and reasonable the petitioners alleged the Lahore High Court verdict is tantamount to a violation of their fundamental rights under Article 25 of the Constitution of Pakistan.

The Pakistan Kissan Ittehad submitted that Relocation Policy is the holistic one which takes into consideration the interests of the growers, the consumers and the economy and has effectively punctured the monopoly of a few sugar mills located in southern Punjab.

That the Impugned Judgment has failed to read Clauses 5 and 8 of the Relocation Policy harmoniously and has thereby arrived at a finding of inconsistency and conflict that in fact does not exist either between the various provisions of the Notification of 04.12.2015 or between the said Notification and Section 3 of the Ordinance of 1963.

“The Relocation Policy cannot be struck down if it had been misused by a few especially if the policy was by itself reasonable, rational and sound for the promotion of growers of sugar cane and for the entire industry.