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Sindh High Court rejects plea for Rangers to be called on ‘Milk Mafia’

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News Analysis |

The Sindh High Court rejected a request for Rangers to act against milk vendors for price control and issued notices to the Karachi commissioner and all deputy commissioners to submit explanations for what steps have been taken by them to cater to this issue. A two-judge bench, headed by Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi, further directed them to submit their replies in this regard by February 19th.

A civil society activist Muhammed Imran Shahzad, who sought reduction in prices of dairy products and establishment of a local taskforce to control their prices, filed the petition.

In his request, the petitioner had pled that the authorities concerned were fixing the prices of dairy products by not following the procedure provided under the Price Control and Prevention of Profiteering and Hoarding Act, 1977. He reminded the honorable court that it had directed the authorities concerned to form a mechanism to control and maintain the prices of dairy products in August 2017. However, milk prices were increased in violation of the court’s earlier order, he alleged.

The judges rejected the plea and issued notices to the Karachi commissioner and deputy commissioners to submit their replies, mentioning steps taken to ensure reduction in milk price. The hearing was adjourned till February 19th.

The judges were further informed that the court had on August 23rd, 2013 directed the city commissioner and others concerned to devise a mechanism to control and maintain the prices of dairy products, including milk. The petitioner had alleged that the ‘mafias’ were acting out once again unilaterally and illegally increased the milk price in direct violation of the court’s order.

He had argued that the increase in the price of milk was unfair given the decreasing prices of petroleum products in international and local markets. He mentioned that the price of milk was fixed at Rs. 70 per litre when the price of petrol was Rs. 110 per litre.

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Pursuant to the court’s earlier order, he said the commissioner had on April 9th, 2012 notified retail price of milk at Rs. 70 per litre, but the dairy farmers increased the rate to Rs. 84 per litre on the pretext of increase in petroleum products.

During the proceedings on the petition moved by Mr. Shahzad, however, the petitioner moved an application, pleading to the court to direct the Rangers take action against those overcharging customers for milk.

Shahzad added that later the dairy farmers proposed to further increase the price to Rs. 94 per litre, which was devoid of any justification, as the prices of all commodities and fuels had decreased.

He had pleaded to the court to order law enforcement agencies to launch a crackdown against the traders selling the commodity at exorbitant prices. A direction was also sought for the Rangers and police to ensure the sale of milk at reasonable prices.

Following suit with Punjab and subsequently KPK, Sindh government announced last weekend to establish a provincial food authority that will be responsible to keep a check on the eateries in Sindh, in order to ensure the quality of edibles they provide to the public, Global Village Space reported.

Read more: Supreme Court summoning of Sindh CM highlights water crisis

The authority has been formed pursuant of the same structure as Punjab and KPK food authority to address food quality and control issues.

Pursuant to the court’s earlier order, he said the commissioner had on April 9th, 2012 notified retail price of milk at Rs. 70 per litre, but the dairy farmers increased the rate to Rs. 84 per litre on the pretext of increase in petroleum products.

Talking to a local media outlet, Sindh Food Department Secretary Sajjad Hussain said the provincial government has granted Rs. 500 million for the establishment of the food authority. The authority is expected to induct 50 personnel in the first phase that will be tasked to raid various hotels, restaurants, bakeries and other eateries.

The team will be comprised of officials from the provincial health department, University of Karachi Food and Science Department’s professor and others. The authority will first select the target areas in February and will start its operations in March.

During the proceedings on the petition moved by Mr. Shahzad, however, the petitioner moved an application, pleading to the court to direct the Rangers take action against those overcharging customers for milk.

The judges rejected the plea and issued notices to the Karachi commissioner and deputy commissioners to submit their replies, mentioning steps taken to ensure reduction in milk price. The hearing was adjourned till February 19th.


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