IHC allows govt to act against those held responsible for sugar crisis

Our Correspondent

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Saturday dismissed a petition filed by leading sugar mill owners challenging the inquiry report of the commission constituted to probe the sugar scam, setting aside its earlier order that barred the government from taking action against those held responsible. On June 11, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah had granted a stay order against the recommendation of the inquiry commission on the sugar scam that has called for registration of criminal cases against sugar mill owners. The petition was filed by the entire sugar industry, including family members of PTI leader Jahangir Khan Tareen, opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif and federal minister Khurso Bakhtiar. The petitioners had claimed that the probe report “exceeds the constitutional mandate and limitations of a Federal Commission of Inquiry constituted under the 2017 Act, as it trespasses into matters within the exclusive legislative and executive domains of provinces”. In its short order, the IHC observed that the constitution of the commission and its report did not violate the fundamental rights of the petitioners. “The report was, therefore, lawfully considered by the federal cabinet,” it said. The order also said that the federal cabinet could not under the Consitution delegate functions and powers vested in the federal government, as had been previously decided by the Supreme Court. In light of this, the federal cabinet’s decision to delegate power to Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Accountability Shahzad Akbar was not in accordance with the law laid down by the Supreme Court, it said. However, the court noted that the federal government had the power to send a reference to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) under the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999. “The learned attorney general […] has stated that he would advise the competent authority to submit the proposed action(s) for the consideration of the federal cabinet. The federal cabinet after considering the proposed action(s) shall be at liberty to take such decisions as it may deem appropriate,” it read.