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ISLAMABAD: The attorney general for Pakistan (AGP) requested the Supreme Court to set the guidelines about the powers of the regulatory bodies.

He stated this while appearing before a three-judge bench, headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial, which heard the federation’s appeal against the Islamabad High Court (IHC)’s verdict on the powers of the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP).

The apex court on November 22, 2021 had suspended the IHC’s judgment restraining the CCP’s inquiry against the ghee and oil mills. Justice Bandial directed the commission to resume inquiry against the mills’ owners, but issued fresh notice to Dalda Foods Limited and tell the mill why an inquiry was initiated against it.

The bench issued notice to the AGP, Khalid Jawed Khan, and directed him to file the written submission before the next date.

The court also issued notice to the CCP and the respondents.

He prayed before the Court to set the guidelines on the regulatory bodies’ power, which protected the rights of company owners and the consumers.

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He said that in the guidelines that regulators powers and courts’ jurisdiction be delineated clearly. He said due to the litigation on the regulators’ decision affect the revenue.

The IHC in October had set aside the CCP’s letters to Dalda Foods Limited seeking information regarding excessive pricing of vanaspati ghee.

The Federal Ministry of Industries and Production on June 8, 2020, wrote a letter to the CCP that despite reduction in palm oil prices, the retail prices of vegetable ghee in the market have not shown a declining trend and requested that the CCP to intervene in such a situation under Sections 3(3)(a) and 37 of the Competition Act, 2010.

The case was adjourned until the first week of March.

According to the IHC’s judgment, many mills owners submitted the information to the CCP, which after preliminary fact-finding exercise, ordered a formal enquiry under Section 37(1) in price increase of ghee/cooking oil to determine prima facie contravention of Sections 3 and 4 of the Act.

Having found Dalda Foods to not be in compliance with the request for information under Section 33 of the Act, the special order under Section 36 of the Act for provision of information through notice dated 7th September 2020 was issued to the company. Dalda Foods, aggrieved by the initiation of enquiry, under Section 33 and the special order, approached the IHC. The IHC’s judgment states that the impugned enquiry has been ordered by the CCP for a collateral purpose without satisfying the requirements of Section 37 and the enquiry order has been passed in breach of provisions of the Act, and is therefore void.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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