SHC questioned ban on loose cooking oil in absence of clear standards.

KARACHI -- The Sindh High Court has observed that the imposition of the ban on sale of loose cooking oil and ghee in the absence of defined standards raised a question as to whether the step validly fell within the ambit of the Sindh Food Authority (SFA).

The two-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Ahmed Ali M. Sheikh and Justice Yousuf Ali Sayeed further noted that lack of basic knowledge demonstrated by functionaries of the SFA during the course of proceedings also raised doubt about its efficiency.

The bench said that the ban imposed on so-called recommendation of the scientific panel was lacking any real scientific basis/analysis and a bare reading of impugned notification revealed its wording to be questionable in certain respects.

The bench made these observations while disposing of two petitions one filed by a citizen against sale of loose oil/ghee and the second filed by vendors of loose edible oil challenging the vires of the SFA Act, 2016 and the authority's powers to impose a ban and seal their warehouses.

SFA recommendation was bereft of any real scientific basis, court observes

About the petition of vendors, the bench noted that apparently, petitioners did not hold any such licence or permission issued by the SFA and their counsel merely claimed that applications had been made to the authority by the petitioners in this regard, but the claim being denied on behalf of the SFA and not even a copy of any such application was placed on record.

'Under such circumstances, we are of the view that the petitioners have no legal standing to carry on any food business within the province and lack locus standi to maintain the petition so as to challenge the impugned notification', it added.

The bench disposed of both petitions along with all miscellaneous applications and maintained its earlier order about de-sealing of warehouses of vendors, 'while otherwise leaving the authority at liberty to exercise its powers under the Act subject to such further aspects/questions being examined at a later date in an appropriate proceeding'.

The order further said that neither sealing orders were enclosed with the comments submitted by the SFA, nor any material was placed on record to demonstrate...

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