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Fixing food prices not courts' job: SC

21 May, 2014

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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday observed that it was not its responsibility to fix the prices of edible items, while observing that the government was failing to perform its duties and regulate the prices of edible items.

A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Justice Jawwad S Khawaja heard the petition filed by Jamaat-e-Islami Secretary General Liaquat Baloch regarding the increase in the price of flour in the country. During the proceedings of the case, Justice Khawaja said, "The country produces plenty of wheat but the people still have no easy access to flour, the basic need of the masses."

The petitioner's lawyer, Tausif Asif pleaded the apex court to intervene, saying the poor segments of society were facing trouble due to sky-rocketing inflation. He requested the court to direct the government to make amendments in the National Food Security Act. Latif Yousafzai represented the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government in the top court regarding its petition against the Punjab government for blocking wheat supply.

He pleaded before the court that the blockage and ban on wheat supply be lifted and requested it to intervene to resolve the issue. The court issued notice to the Punjab advocate general and adjourned the case till May 28.

During the last hearing of the case, the SC had directed the officials of the Food Ministry to prepare a table to explain how a family comprising two adults and two minors would be able to survive with dignity as per Article 14 of the constitution within the minimum wages.

The bench also constituted four committees, comprising federal and provincial governments law officers to check the price and availability of flour throughout the country. The court had observed that the general perception amongst all law officers is that an effort is required to ensure that the minimum nutritional needs of the citizens are met. An application submitted in the SC by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government through Advocate General Latif Yousafzai says that the Punjab government has imposed unannounced restrictions for the past 20 days with regard to the movement of wheat.

The application further states that checkposts have been established, stopping trucks loaded with wheat on routes leading to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. These restrictions are blocking the flow of wheat to the province, not only adversely affecting the transportation but also creating a shortage of wheat in the market.

The application further states that millers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are facing difficulties in transporting wheat which they are purchasing in the markets of Punjab for grinding in their mills. It added that the food secretary and food minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have approached the federal and Punjab governments via letters to lift the ban, but there has been no result so far.

End.

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