ISLAMABAD            -        The Supreme Court of Pakistan Tuesday directed the Sindh High Court (SHC) and Islamabad High Court (IHC) to decide the petitions of Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA) against the Inquiry Commission report within three weeks.

A three-member bench of the

 apex court headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Gulzar Ahmed conducted hearing of the federal government’s appeal against the SHC to grant stay to the sugar mills against the Inquiry Commission report. The top court of the country said that the SHC’s interim order will not remain in operation.

Attorney General for Pakistan Khalid Jawed Khan, representing the federation, argued that the interim order passed by the SHC is contrary to well settled principles of law. He added that the SHC has no jurisdiction to stop inquiry or investigation conducted in a lawful manner.

The Commission of Inquiry was lawfully constituted and its report is only ‘Fact Finding’ along with certain recommendations in the public interest for the consideration of federal government.

“No direct adverse action was taken or penalty imposed against any party on the basis of the inquiry report without proceeding further under the law,” the AGP said.

He added that the inquiry report was being sent to different statutory authorities including FBR, SECP, NAB, CCP, FIA etc to examine the facts and if in their opinion it disclosed any violation of the law under which the respective authority was functioning, then action be taken strictly in accordance with that law.

He further said that the SHC could not grant injunction unless the three ingredients stipulated under Order 39 Rule 1 & 2, CPC, 1908 were fulfilled. The petition filed in SHC being premature as filed only under apprehension of adverse action in future is not maintainable.

He contended that the petition filed by the sugar mills (respondent) in Sindh High Court being motivated by ulterior consideration of stifling lawful proceedings by different statutory bodies/authorities under different statutes is liable to be dismissed by the apex court, contended the federation.

The court observed that sugar mills owners have alleged the biasness in the Inquiry Commission report and that it was not properly constituted.

The chief justice said that a factual controversy in the case is the bias.

Makhdoom Ali Khan, counsel for the sugar mills, adopted that let the High Court decide the matter as the Supreme Court will have benefit that it will have judgment of the lower court.

Justice Ijaz said that the government system could not be jammed. The report does not hurt any individual. He said that if the respondents find the actions of functionaries unreasonable then they could approach the apex court.

The attorney general contended that this is not a private dispute, but that is for the interest of the public as the sugar prices were increased. Public will suffer if the interim order is not set aside. Why there should be privilege position for 25 sugar mills.

Makhdoom Ali Khan informed that Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA) and 17 others have also filed the writ petition in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) against the same inquiry commission report on 21-05-2020. The petitions were disposed of by the IHC vide short order on 20-06-2020, while the detailed reasons were delivered on 13-07-2020. The counsel of the sugar mills however, informed the bench that Intra-Court Appeal have been filed in the IHC against the single bench judgment.

During the hearing, both the petitioner and the respondents’ counsels agreed that as the matter is before the IHC and SHC, let it be decided at the earliest. It was the concern of the sugar mills that no coercive measures be taken against them. They further requested the bench that media trial of the PSMA ought to be stopped.

Attorney General for Pakistan Khalid Jawed Khan made a statement that no official of the government will say anything against the PSMA and that no unnecessary coercive measures will be taken but the authority will proceed against the respondents strictly in accordance with the law.