The Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday while hearing a case against the shifting of sugar mills from north to south Punjab halted the crushing operations of the Sharif family’s Ittefaq, Chaudhry and Haseeb sugar mills.
PPP Senator Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, counsel for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Jahangir Tareen’s JDW Sugar Mills Ltd, told a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Saqib Nisar that the shifting of sugar mills is an illegal move, citing a 2006 Punjab government notification that not only banned the creation of new mills, but also the shifting of their locations.
Defence counsel Salman Akram Raja argued that a 2015 amendment in the 2006 notification, overseen by the Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, made provisions for the shifting of sugar mills from one point to another, although the creation of new mills remains illegal.
As CJP Nisar ordered a halt in the mills’ crushing operations, Raja contended that such a move would render thousands of employees jobless and the mill would lose Rs380 million as a result.
Furthermore, Raja also maintained that the stoppage of operations would shut down the power plant attached to the sugar mill. The CJP, raising a question about the shareholders in the mill, asked whether the Punjab chief minister’s son, Hamza Shahbaz, had any stake in the operation.
The defence counsel denied Hamza Shahbaz had any stake in the mills, and explained that Tariq Shafi, Javed Shafi and their families are stakeholders in the operation. The apex court handed the case down to the Lahore High Court (LHC) and instructed the LHC chief justice to hear all sides of the case and deliver a verdict within a week.