THE Supreme Court of Pakistan resumed hearing of the petition by Zafar Iqbal Jhagra, as well as its suo moto notice, on the prices of petroleum products, and issued notice for OGRA to report on the prices in Pakistan compared to the international prices. During the hearing, Chief Justice of Pakistan, Mr Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, heading the three-member Bench hearing the case, remarked that the price of petrol would be Rs 31 per litre if international prices were followed. This would imply a rejection of the OGRA formula, which came after the Bhagwandas Commission report. The Chief Justice noted that the Court had kept the case adjourned for three months in the hope that the government would take notice of the prices, and would act in the light of the Commissions report, but it had been obliged to resume hearing of the case. The Bench also took notice of LPG prices, and asked the Secretary Petroleum to provide the names of those who had benefited and received lucrative LPG quotas. That those who had earned massive profits on these quotas were not determined, was not received lightly, or with any pleasure, by the court. The next hearing was fixed for October 29, with the Court remarking that it was to give a decision soon. Though the Supreme Court may take a decision around the end of the month, when OGRA is due to set the petrol price again, it should keep in mind the fate of its decision fixing the price of sugar, which has led to the disappearance of that commodity from the market, and that too on appeal from a Lahore High Court decision. If the Supreme Court tries to fix the petrol price, there is very little possibility of its disappearance, but it could lead to a showdown with the Executive Branch, which is responsible for setting the petrol price, whereas it is not responsible in that way for the sugar price. In many respects, petroleum products are more vital than sugar, impacting almost every human activity, while sugar is limited to a very wide variety of foods. The Court itself is aware that it should not be involved in fixing prices, but it cannot let the government go on neglecting the ordinary citizen as it has done. The Court, which was restored this year after a long lawyers movement which took President Pervez Musharraf in its wake, has filled in the gap where the Executive shows deficiencies. Until the Executive Branch understands that it is no longer untrammelled by the Constitution and law, these judicial interventions will continue, especially where staples and basic commodities are concerned.