LAHORE - The Punjab government has summoned the Ittefaq Sugar Mills lawyer for personal hearing in a case of "illegal relocation" of mills owned by close relatives of Premier Nawaz Sharif from central Punjab to southern Punjab, it was learnt.

Official sources said that in response to a show-cause served on the mills, Salman Akram Raja – counsel for the mills – wrote to the industries department requesting that he should be heard regarding the relocation case.

The Directorate of Industries then asked the counsel to appear before the authorities for personal hearing on May 25, an official told The Nation requesting anonymity.

He said the directorate had in fact issued notice to two sugar mills : Haseeb Sugar Mills and Ittefaq Sugar Mills . The former was relocated from Nankana Sahib to Muzaffargarh district while the latter from Pakpatan to Bahawalpur.

Earlier, the Lahore High Court in January this year suspended two notifications of the Punjab government regarding the shifting of four sugar mills owned by close relatives of the prime minister from their existing locations to other districts.

These sugar mills included Ittefaq Sugar Mills , Sahiwal; Haseeb Waqas Sugar Mills , Nankana Sahib; Abdullah Sugar Mills , Sargodha; and Abdullah Sugar Mills , Depalpur.

The court passed this order on a petition filed by M/S JD Sugar Mills and its shareholder Maqsood Ahmad Malhi.

It was learnt that the government had introduced a policy of relocation of sugar mills and the mills owners shifted their setups as per it.

The aforesaid official said that official machinery right from Civil Secretariat in capital Lahore down to district authorities facilitated this shifting process. He said the court has struck down this relocation policy and cases of different sugar mills are pending in the higher courts of law.

The officer held that on December 4, 2015, the Punjab industries department had issued the impugned orders with mala fide intention to facilitate the close relatives of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif to shift their relatives’ sugar mills to the places of their desired locations.

“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,” quoted the officer. He said that a number of sugar mills were barred previously under the same section of law.

The above mentioned mills shifted their machinery to the new premises in Bahawalpur, Muzaffargarh, Rajanpur and Rahim Yar Khan and commenced crushing. Other sugar industrialists call it an unjustified act of the government.