KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Thursday restrained the provincial authorities from taking coercive against the sugar millers for not commencing sugarcane crushing by the deadline set by the provincial government.
A division bench headed by Chief Justice Maqabool Baqar granted this injunction while hearing a petition filed by sugar mill owners who moved the court questioning legality of the provision of Sugar Factories Control Act, 1950 that give provincial government powers to unilaterally fix a minimum price of sugarcane.
Advocate Abdul Hafeez Pirzada, representing Mirpurkhas Sugar Mills and other petitioners, had submitted that the provisions of the Act imposed the unreasonable restriction on the petitioners to sell sugar at a loss as government fixes the minimum price of sugarcane arbitrarily and in that respect there is no reasonable protection against the misuse of power and no provision for check by way of the appeal or otherwise.
He said it was categorically envisaged in the prevailing national sugar policy that price of refined sugar shall be determined by free market and therefore in prevailing circumstances, the impugned provision has become anachronistic, discriminatory and redundant and same is therefore apt to be struck down.
The counsel said that adverse impact of notification put out under the impugned provision was that many of the sugar millers were being forced to supply and sell refined sugar at below their own cost of output.
On Thursday, counsel for petitioners filed a miscellaneous application, submitting that provincial government had issued a notification dated November 11 whereby the minimum price of sugarcane was unilaterally enhanced to Rs182 per 40 kilogram. He added that the government issued another notification, specifying the date of commencement of sugar crushing by November 14.
He said the issuance of the notification regarding sugarcane pricing would prejudice the interests of petitioners, besides they will suffer irreparable loss. He added that acts of the government will completely destroy the local sugar industry. He pleaded to the court to declare as illegal and unconstitutional the both notifications and set them aside.
After hearing preliminary arguments on the applications, the court issued notice to provincial authorities and restrained them from initiating coercive action against the petitioner millers for not commencing the crushing till November 19.