LHC orders sealing of two sugar mills

The Lahore High Court on Thurs­day ordered immediate sealing of two sugar mills, believed to be owned by the ruling Sharif family and their close relatives, which have been shifted to new locations in violation of stay orders.

A division bench headed by Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah directed the session judges concerned to shut down Haseeb Waqas Sugar Mills in Muzaffargarh and Chaudhry Sugar Mills in Rahim Yar Khan and submit a compliance report.

PM Nawaz Sharif

The bench was hearing intra-court appeals filed by the two mills and Ittefaq Sugar Mills challenging a single bench’s decision to set aside the shifting of the mills to new locations in south Punjab. The single bench had issued the impugned order in October last year on petitions filed by JDW Sugar Mills of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader Jahangir Tareen and others.

During Thursday’s hearing, Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan advanced arguments on behalf of the JDW Sugar Mills. He said that the three sugar mills of the Sharif family had completed their shifting process in blatant violation of stay orders issued by different courts. He said that the Chaudhry Sugar Mills had spent Rs600 million on its relocation. He also presented bank documents and photographs of the mills’ shifting process in support of his argument.

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Barrister Ahsan said that the relocation policy for sugar mills announced by the Punjab government in 2015 was based on mala fide intentions. He said that environmental laws had also been ignored in the shifting of the mills. The bench ruled that the two sugar mills would remain shut down till further orders and sought further arguments in the case.

The chief justice said that the bench would resume hearing of the case on a day-to-day basis from March 28. The bench did not order sealing of the Ittefaq Sugar Mills at this stage because its counsel Salman Akram Raja was not present in the court. However, it ruled that the previous stay order would apply in its case. The Supreme Court on Feb 9 had remanded the case to the LHC while staying manufacturing process at the three sugar mills.