KARACHI - The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Tuesday summoned Minister and Secretary Agriculture Sindh as well as provincial Cane Commissioner in a contempt of court petition related to non-compliance of court’s orders to notify sugarcane price and start of sugarcane crushing in the province.

The division bench of SHC headed by Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar directed Ismail Rahu, Agriculture Minister, Agha Zaheeruddin, Secretary Agriculture as well as Syed Muhammad Afzal Zaidi, Sindh Cane Commissioner to appear in the hearing of the petition on December 11, 2018. Syed Murid Ali Shah Advocate filed the contempt of court petition against them.

On October 30, 2010, SHC ordered Sindh government to constitute the Sugarcane Control Board under the provisions of Sugar Factories Control Act, 1950 within 10 days positively. Immediately on constitution of Sugarcane Control Board, the meeting should convened for fixation of sugar cane price in accordance with Section 16 of the Sugar Factories Control Act 1950 (Sindh Amendment Act X of 2009 including the cost element of production of sugarcane, the return to the grower from alternative crops and the general trend of prices of agricultural commodities and quality premium.

Besides, the occupier of the sugar mills/factories shall send a notice to the Cane Commissioner for showing their intension to start crushing strictly in accordance with Section 5 of the Sugar Factories Control Act, 1950.

Court also ordered that the price of sugarcane may be fixed by the Sugarcane Control Board shall be notified by the Government of Sindh before 30th November 2018 positively. Petitioner prayed the court to to punish and order for detention of the Contemnors for willful disobedience of the Order dated 30.10.2018 and pleaded that despite clear and unambiguous Order, the price of sugarcane and date of crushing has not been notified by the Contemnors.

Petitioner said that this act of ‘contemnors’ is willful and blatant failure to implement the order of the court. The same division bench of SHC also ordered a seven-member committee to settle the issue of non-payment of dues to sugarcane growers in the province in 45 days with the deadline scheduled to expire on December 15, 2018.

Apart from Cane Commissioner, Vice President of Sindh Abadgar Alliance, President of SGA, President Sindh Chamber of Agriculture and three representatives of Sindh Sugar Mills Association (PSMA) Sindh Zone will be members of the committee.

There are around 1300 complaints about the non-payment of dues filed with Cane Commissioner by growers involving around Rs1 billion.