Presently a three-member Supreme Court bench is hearing the case filed by the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) against Dalda Foods Limited Karachi regarding excessive pricing of Ghee/Cooking oil. During the hearing on Wednesday, the bench directed the Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP), CCP, and concerned parties to submit written assertions regarding the issue of high pricing of ghee/cooking oil. According to details, the Prime Minister’s citizen portal received complaints about the increase in food prices. The Competition Commission launched an inquiry against 117 mills upon receiving the complaint and sought relevant information from the ghee mills on the issue. After receiving the response of the mills, the CCP launched an inquiry against ghee mills over excessive prices and issued notices to the company owners for violation of the law, while the company filed a petition against the commission’s notice. During the previous hearing, the counsel for CCP informed the court that inquiries against ghee mills had been stopped following the order of the Islamabad High Court. The court suspended the IHC’s order regarding the holdup of inquiry against ghee/cooking oil manufacturers and asked stakeholders to submit their views in the case.
In fact, the menace of cartelization is on the rise in all sectors of the national economy, while the writ of the government is weakening due to the non-implementation of law and corruption in Government Departments. After the Supreme Court allowed the CCP to resume inquiry, the Commission asked Ghee manufacturers to provide information, but some sections of the ghee industry resisted the provision of required data to CCP. Later, the Commission carried out search and inspection operations at the offices of Pakistan Vanaspati Manufacturers Association (PVMA) in Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad and impounded related documents and computer data that can be helpful in the conclusion of the investigations. The litigation always hinders the process of monitoring and accountability besides affecting the rights of the consumers, therefore the apex court must set guidelines for regulators as well as the subordinate courts to protect the rights of consumers and manufacturers while targeting the cartels effectively.