SHC to hear sugar cane issue on daily basis

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) has decided to hear on a daily basis the matter involving row between the sugar cane farmers and mill owners over the fixing of the cane price.

A two-judge bench, headed by Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi, announced on Thursday that it will hear the case on a daily basis from Monday, January 15.

The growers had approached the court last month, arguing that they were paid less price for sugar cane against the minimum price of Rs182 per 40 kilogrammes (kg) fixed by the government. They alleged that sugar mills operating in the province also did not fulfil their obligations in the previous crushing season and the fixing of the price was pending before the Supreme Court, which covered the entire range of the issue.

The mill owners’ lawyer had challenged the government notification regarding fixing the price at Rs182 per 40kg, arguing that the millers were not under any legal obligation to give effect to the same as the notified price was not viable and would result in losses to the mills.

On the request of both the parties for interim relief, the court had on December 23 directed the sugar mills to pay Rs172 per 40kg to sugar cane growers and furnish security of the differential amount to the nazir of the court.

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Representing the mill owners on Thursday, Barrister Farogh Naseem argued that the millers would suffer huge losses if they paid to the growers the price ordered by the court. He pleaded to the court to review its order of payment of Rs172 per 40kg to the sugar cane growers by the millers. Barrister Nasim claimed that the mill owners were suffering losses to the tune of Rs7 million per day.

On the other hand, the growers’ lawyer, Advocate Syed Mureed Ali Shah, argued that it was the growers who were suffering the most due to the non-payment of price by the millers as ordered by the court.

Advocate Shah argued that instead of implementing the court order to pay Rs172 per 40kg to the growers, the owners had shut down their sugar mills. He requested the SHC to initiate contempt of court proceedings against the millers.

As the two lawyers engaged in a heated debate, the judges told them not to try to influence the court proceedings by raising their voices. The bench ordered the maintaining of decorum of the court.

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Justice Abbasi remarked that the court will pass an appropriate order in accordance with the law. The bench decided to hear the matter on daily basis from January 15. Meanwhile, it also issued a notice to the sugar mill owners to file comments on the contempt plea.

They say they will not hold any more meetings with the government on the issue

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