LAHORE - The Lahore High Court Thursday sought more arguments on petitions of sugarcane growers seeking payments from various banks.

Nishat and other farmers had moved the petitions stating that they had supplied sugarcane to Brother Sugar Mill in 2013 on the rate fixed by the government. The petitioners stated the sugar mills had not been paying them their dues for over three years.

They said the mills produced the sugar and took loan from the banks by giving the sugar-stocks as mortgage to the banks in order to avoid payments to farmers. Now, the farmers said, the banks are claiming that sugar has no market demand, so therefore they could not pay them till the sale of the sugar stocks.

A law officer who appeared on behalf of the Punjab government said that no doubt the banks have their right to claim but the right of farmers is superior in this situation.  He said there are several judgments which had establish that in such a situation the right of the farmers will prevail.

The law officer stated the farmers supplied sugarcane to the sugar mills as per the rate of the government and the sugar produced by the mills was mortgaged to the banks to avoid payments to the growers. Cane Commissioner has powers to sale such stocks of sugar for the payments to the farmers, said the law officer.

He said the superior courts have also declared such powers of the cane commissioner as lawful. In India, the farmers commit suicide over non-payments but we have to protect the rights of the farmers in Pakistan, said the law officer. 

After hearing the arguments, Justice Ayesha A Malik adjourned hearing until May 24 with direction to the respondents’ counsel to come up with arguments.