Sharif’s files appeal in SC against LHC verdict on relocation of Sugar Mills

Islamabad (Monitoring Desk): Ittefaq Sugar Mills group owned by Sharif family has filed appeal against Lahore High Court verdict on relocation of sugar mills.

The entity had relocated its sugar mills from Pakpattan district to Bahawalpur district for commencing crushing at the new site for the 2015 season when a ban was already in place on establishment of new sugar mills or expansion of the existing ones.

Now the petitioner, through senior counsel Salman Akram Raja, has argued that the 2006 notification does not impose a restriction on relocation of existing sugar mills since such a move would leave the total crushing capacity installed in Punjab unchanged.

Appellant argues before SC that the high court’s judgement has usurped its fundamental right to carry out trade and business at a location of its choice

The petitioner has named 15 different individuals and government departments, including the Punjab chief secretary, provincial secretaries of industries, commerce and investment, agriculture, environment protection department, food department, etc, as respondents.

Earlier, a number of petitions, including by JDW Sugar Mills Ltd, Ashraf Sugar Mills, Indus Sugar Mills, etc, were moved before the LHC in which a plea was taken that the relocation of the existing sugar mills would amount to establishing a new sugar mill in the local area.

The Ittefaq Sugar Mills, however, argued before the LHC’s single bench that the ban was applicable to the case of setting up of a new sugar mill as well as enhancement in the existing capacity. Therefore, the petitioner’s case being of relocation does not cover under the ban notification.

When the Punjab government’s point of view was sought during the proceedings before the LHC, the court was told that a high-powered committee was considering this aspect. Later, the Punjab government, through a fresh notification of Dec 4, 2015, regularised the relocation of the factory by clarifying that the ban notification does not cover the relocation of the sugar crushing unit.

Subsequently, the regularisation notification was challenged by different sugar mills, including Ittefaq Sugar Mills, which were taken up by Justice Ayesha A. Malik who, after hearing the same, suspended the relocation notification and later decided against the present petitioner on Oct 10, 2016.