ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court yesterday questioned why local fertiliser manufacturers were deprived of subsidy under the Kissan Package.

The court observed subsidy had been given on imported fertilisers while the local manufacturers were deprived of it. It said if local fertilisers were substandard and harmful for the land, why they had not been banned.

A two-member bench, comprising Justice Ejaz Afzal and Qazi Faez Isa, heard the federation’s appeal against the Peshawar High Court verdict. It further asked how the imported raw material was better than the local one.

Justice Qazi said they respected the parliamentarians, but the way affairs were being run was a matter of concern, adding the subsidy on fertilisers was given from the public taxes. He asked why the government had adopted unconstitutional and illegal path.

Attorney General for Pakistan Ashtar Ausaf informed the court that on September 15, 2015, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had approved the Kissan Package and the subsidy on fertilisers was being given under this scheme.

The AGP argued that the PHC had delivered the judgment without recording evidence. It even had not heard the federation’s point of view and ordered provision of subsidy to the local fertiliser companies.

The attorney general further argued the PHC had decided the matter without issuing a notice to the federal government. He contended that on November 20, 2015, the petition was filed and the judgment announced on November 23.

Justice Qazi inquired how the government deemed the PHC judgment was against them, according to which it would be decided after the laboratory tests whether the local companies would also be given subsidy or not.

Justice Ejaz questioned what had compelled the government to do such classification that the subsidy would only be given to imported fertilisers and local producers would not be entitled to it. The AGP said it had been decided to do so after scientific consideration. The imported raw material for fertilisers was more beneficial for the lands, so it had been decided to give Rs 196 subsidy per bag, he said.

Ashtar Ausaf contended the petitioner was not a citizen of Pakistan, but the company was Pakistani, so he could not file application under Article 199 of the Constitution. Justice Qazi questioned whether the company could not get relief.

The AGP replied the company was not an individual that could get relief under articles 15, 18 and 25 which dealt with the rights of citizens and the top court in another decision had held that a company could not claim rights under these articles. The judge said priority should have been given to local manufacturers instead of those which were using imported raw material. The court was told that raw material for fertilisers was being imported from Indonesia, Mauritius and Jordan.

The attorney general completed his arguments while Salman Akram Raja, counsel for Agritech Company, will argue today (Friday).