Court snubs cane commissioner for inaction

LAHORE –  The Lahore High Court on Friday snubbed the Punjab cane commissioner for not lodging cases against the sugar mill owners.

On Wednesday, the court ordered action against mills that would not start the crushing within two day.

Justice Sajid Mahmood Sethi was hearing the petition moved by JI leader Mian Maqsood Ahmad. Sugar factories in Punjab are legally bound to start crushing in first week of November. Much delay in start of crushing this year caused loss to farmers. Agri Forum Pakistan vice-president Rao Akhtar said that out of total 16 sugar mills of South Punjab, 13 were operation and rest three closed on court order.

The real issue, he said was that the farmers were not being paid the notified rate (Rs180 per 40 kg) by sugar mills owners.

Sugar factories either verbally tell growers or issue a receipt that they would pay Rs130-140 per 40kg instead of the notified rate and take back CPR (cane price receipt) from a farmer when he drops sugarcane at factory, he added.

Under the CPR, each sugar factory mentions the weight and rate of sugar cane bought as well as the date when it is supplied to the sugar mill concerned.  “Sugar millers are completely violating the notification of official rates,” he said, and added that sugar cane producers couldn’t withhold their crop now.

On Friday, Punjab Cane Commissioner Sana Ullah appeared before the court and submitted that he issued show-cause notices to the mill owners instead of lodging cases against them for not starting crushing.

The reply irked the judge who remarked that the court earlier had ordered registration of cases against the owners.

The judge observed that the court had ordered for registration of cases but the commissioner showed leniency towards the sugar mills. He directed the commissioner to submit a report on December 26 after lodging cases against the offending sugar mills. The judge also sought a separate report on payment to farmers as Rs180 per 40kg.

Plea agasint Election Act

The Lahore High Court on issued notices to the Election Commission of Pakistan and the federal government on a petition challenging Election Act, 2017 which provides cover to the politicians to conceal details about their assets, loans, cases and dual nationality in their nomination papers.

Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah admitted the petition for the regular hearing and issued notice to the respondents. The CJ also directed the Attorney General of Pakistan to apprise the court on the matter. Habib Akram, a local citizen, moved the petition submitting that the new law recently passed by the National Assembly had allowed politicians/candidates not to show details in Form A and B of the nomination papers. The law in question, he said, was enacted by the assembly in haste and with mala fide intention to conceal corruption of the politicians as no formal debate was conduct on it before getting it approved. He claimed that a number of provisions of the law were contrary to the Constitution.

In Form A of the nomination papers, affidavit of the candidates regarding details about their family members, assets, loans obtained as well as litigation was removed, he claimed. The petitioner said that the affidavit about dual nationality and details about passport and annual income of the candidates was also detached.

The amendment in the forms paved the way for corrupt politicians as no one could be declared as ineligible on said grounds in future, the petitioner said. He further said that the new amendment was against various articles of the Constitution. He asked the court to restrain the ministry of law and Election Commission of Pakistan from using the nomination papers.

Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah admitted for regular hearing and issued notice to the respondents. The court adjourned further hearing until Jan 15.

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