LAHORE – On Thursday the Lahore High Court ordered immediate sealing of two sugar mills owned by the ruling Sharif family and their close relatives.

A division bench headed by Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah directed the session judges concerned to shut down Haseeb Waqas Sugar Mills in Muzaffargarh and Chaudhry Sugar Mills in Rahim Yar Khan.

The bench was hearing intra-court appeals filed by the two mills and Ittefaq Sugar Mills challenging a single bench’s decision to set aside the shifting of the mills to new locations in south Punjab.

In October last year, the single bench declared the shifting of five sugar mills owned by close relatives of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from one district to other as illegal on petitions filed by JDW Sugar Mills of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader Jahangir Tareen and others.

During Thursday’s hearing, Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan argued before the bench as counsel for JDW Sugar Mills and expressed that three sugar mills of the Sharif family had completed their shifting process in blatant violation of stay orders issued by different courts.

Aitzaz claimed that the Chaudhry Sugar Mills had spent Rs 600 million on its relocation, and had also presented bank documents and photographs of the mills’ shifting process to bolster his arguments.

He went on and expressed that the relocation policy for sugar mills announced by the Punjab government in 2015 was based on mala fide intentions.

‘Environmental laws had also been ignored in the shifting of the mills’ Aitzaz noted.

The bench ruled that the two sugar mills would remain shut down till further orders and sought further arguments in the case. It was also remarked that day to day hearing would be done from March 28.

Ittefaq Sugar Mills’s counsel Salman Akram Raja was not present in court yesterday so the court did not order its sealing. However,  it ruled that the previous stay order would apply in its case that halted operation at this sugar mill as well.

On February 9, a three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Saqib Nasir ordered to halt working at Ittefaq Sugar Mill, Chaudhry Sugar Mill and Waqas Sugar Mill after a petition was filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Jehangir Tareen’s DW Sugar Mill, challenging a stay order issued by the Lahore High Court (LHC). The case was then referred to Lahore High court.