SHC nullifies Sugar Inquiry Commission report
The Sindh High Court Monday nullified the sugar inquiry commission and its report and ordered FIA, NAB and FBR to conduct their separate inquiries into the matter.
An SHC division bench comprising Justice KK Agha and Justice Omar Sial announced the reserved verdict on a petition filed by the Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA) against an inquiry commission formed by the government to probe into a sugar crisis that hit the country earlier this year.
The SHC declared report of Sugar Inquiry Commission null and void and also ordered the National Accountability Bureau, Federal Board of Revenue, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to carry out independent inquiries as per law.
The court ordered all three departments to conduct inquiries into the sugar scandal without considering the earlier Sugar Inquiry Commission report.
The court ordered NAB to conduct an independent and fair inquiry into the matter under NAB Ordinance and send the report to the commission.
The court also ordered to keep the members of the Sugar Inquiry Commission who have knowledge of the sugar industry.
The court ordered that it should be determined whether some illegal subsidies were given to the sugar industry and if some government official has abused his authority illegally in the matter.
The court also ordered the FBR to launch new investigations as per Tax Laws. The court also ordered the Security Exchange Commission of Pakistan and State Bank of Pakistan to play their due role in the matter without considering the previous report of the Sugar Inquiry Commission.
The federal government had made public a report of the Sugar Inquiry Commission on May 30. The report was uploaded on the Press Information Department (PID) website. According to the report, the sugar mill owners had inflicted losses on sugarcane growers consistently.
The commission had also found irregularities in advance payments to farmers in the form of cash or commodity, which is tantamount to unregulated banking, whereas, the mill owners hurt farmers by indulging in informal banking and earned a profit of up to 35 per cent.
Later on July 14, the Supreme Court had nullified the Sindh High Court’s June 23 stay order that restrained the federal government from taking action against sugar mills in light of the sugar inquiry commission’s recommendations.
A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed, allowed the federal government’s petition challenging the SHC order. It directed the government and relevant institutions to desist from unnecessary measures against sugar mill owners and take action against them as per the law.
The government through the attorney general for Pakistan had filed the appeal in the apex court, requesting it to set aside the restraining order the high court gave on a petition moved by sugar mill owners.