–SC restores Sharif family plea challenging LHC decision of declaring relocation of sugar mills illegal
ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Wednesday hinted that he may initiate contempt proceedings against the Sharif family as the apex court reinstated Sharifs plea challenging a Lahore High Court (LHC) decision wherein it had declared the relocation of sugar mills to Southern Punjab illegal and ordered that the owners of the mills return them to their previous locations within three months, having observed that the Sharif family had illegally relocated the mills.
“We will see if contempt proceedings can be carried out over misdeclaration,” the CJP observed further as a three-member bench took up the plea.
“The Sharif family had initially claimed the sugar mills were power plants,” the CJP noted.
During the proceedings, Ittefaq Sugar Mills counsel, Salman Akram Raja, came to the courtroom late and the counsel for Waqas Sugar Mills had come unprepared, which led to the dismissal of the appeal. Raja arrived in the courtroom before a written order regarding the dismissal of the appeal was signed and requested the court to restore the appeal.
Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar advised Raja against appearing late for a hearing, warning him that no exceptions will be made if he appeared late again. At this, Raja said that he would not ask for any exceptions either.
The court then retracted its order of dismissing the plea after Raja requested the bench.
The hearing was then adjourned for an indefinite period.
In December 2006, the Punjab government had issued a notification, barring the setting up of new sugar mills, the expansion of the existing ones and relocation of mills.
However, in 2015, the government made changes to the notification, allowing relocations of the sugar mills, which led to the relocation of Chaudhry Sugar Mills to Rahim Yar Khan, Haseeb Waqas Sugar Mills to Muzaffargarh and Ittefaq Sugar Mills to Bahawalpur. All three sugar mills are said to the property of the Sharif family.
In 2016, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Jahangir Tareen challenged the relocation of the sugar mills in the LHC, saying that the Sharif family benefited from the changes made to the 2006 notification and relocation was illegal.
LHC had given the verdict in favour of the petitioner, declaring the relocation of sugar mills to Southern Punjab illegal and ordered that the owners of the mills return them to their previous locations within three months.
Earlier in the year, the top court had ordered the temporary reopening of the three sugar mills owned by the Sharif family after the farmers had approached the court to allow crushing of sugarcane for the current season.
In their petition, the farmers said that the season’s crop will be wasted if the mills are not allowed to operate. However, the court had turned down the request at first, but eventually, it had ordered the reopening of the mills.