SHC expresses concern at hike in milk price across cityArchive
KARACHI: Expressing grave concern over the increase in milk prices in the city, the Sindh High Court on Friday directed the Karachi commissioner to file a comprehensive report reflecting the regulation of dairy products’ prices.
Headed by Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, a two-judge bench was hearing a constitutional petition of civil rights campaigner Mohammed Imran Shahzad seeking reduction in prices of dairy products and formation of a task force to regulate the prices.
The bench also showed its displeasure over the lethargic attitude of the provincial government in making legislation for formation of the regulatory task force and put off the matter to Feb 17.
At the outset of the hearing on Friday, the petitioner informed the judges that wholesalers were providing milk at Rs63 per litre to retailers, who were selling it at Rs84 to Rs100 per litre at shops across the city.
He pointed out that the SHC had earlier in March 2016 directed the city administration to fix the milk price at Rs80 per litre but its order was not so far complied with.
The chief justice asked the provincial law officer as to what happened about the formation of the Sindh Food Authority that was planned by the provincial government to check the quality of food as well as its prices.
The court observed that the increase in prices of dairy products was not being controlled despite the existence of the food department.
It directed the commissioner to furnish a detailed report regarding the dairy products’ prices fixed by the local administration.
The petitioner earlier submitted in his petition that the authorities concerned were not fixing the prices of dairy products by following the procedure provided under the Price Control and Prevention of Profiteering and Hoarding Act, 1977.
He submitted that the SHC in August 2016 directed the authorities concerned to form a mechanism to control and maintain the prices of dairy products; however, milk prices were increased in violation of the court’s earlier order.
The civil rights campaigner recalled that an SHC bench on Aug 23, 2013 directed the city commissioner and other respondents concerned to devise a mechanism to control and maintain the prices of dairy products, including milk.
However, he said the “milk seller mafia” had once again unilaterally and illegally increased the milk price, which was a violation of the court’s earlier order.
The petitioner pointed out that the increase in milk price was unjust in view of decreasing prices of petroleum products at international and local markets.
He recalled that the price of milk was fixed at Rs70 per litre when the price of petrol was Rs110 per litre.
The petitioner recalled that pursuant to the court’s earlier order, the commissioner notified on April 9, 2012 the retail price of milk at Rs70 per litre, but the dairy farmers unilaterally increased the rate to Rs84 per litre on the grounds that the price of petroleum products had gone up.
He said that later, the dairy farmers proposed to increase the price to Rs94 per litre once again without any sound and cogent reason, whereas the prices of all commodities and fuels went down.
The petitioner also asked the court to order the law-enforcement agencies to launch a crackdown on the traders selling the commodity at exorbitant prices.
He asked the court to direct the law-enforcement agencies, including Rangers and police, to ensure the sale of milk at reasonable prices.
Published in Dawn, February 11th, 2017