Islamabad: Alas! The days of cheap samosas in Pakistan is over. Ending a legal wrangle over the price of the humble samosa, the Supreme Court has set aside a notification of the Punjab government whereby the price of one 'samosa' was fixed at Rs 6.
The samosa, till early this week, was caught up in a legal tussle between the provincial government and Punjab Bakers and Sweets Federation.
In 2009, the City District Government Lahore had fixed price of one samosa at Rs 6 and magistrates imposed fine on shopkeepers for selling the same at a higher price.
The Punjab Bakers and Sweets Federation, through its President Chaudhry Muhammad Afzal, had challenged this order at the time, but the LHC had dismissed the petition.
The petitioner moved an appeal in the Supreme Court Lahore Registry arguing that Samosa is not an item notified under the Punjab Foodstuffs (Control) Act 1958; therefore, its price cannot be fixed by the provincial government.
The Punjab government's counsel submitted that the government had the power to fix prices of items that were being sold to the public at large.
The apex court, however, allowed the appeal of Punjab Bakers and Sweets and set aside the impugned notification on Tuesday.
The samosas are consumed with great relish by Pakistanis around the year but the sales skyrocket during Ramazan as it is a staple of the Iftar spread.
The apex court's involvement in issues such as fixing the prices of food items invited derision from sections of the media.
In an editorial titled "Samosa justice", the influential Dawn newspaper said: "While the commercial bakers will rejoice at the verdict, others waiting for justice in Pakistan's ever-clogged judicial system may be wondering when their turn will come".
The daily questioned whether the "superior judiciary should devise some rules and a system to fast-track more urgent and serious matters for justice rather than spend valuable time on a regulation that is virtually unenforceable in any case".
It said a visit to any market in Lahore would show that samosas are "openly being sold for much higher than Rs 6".
The editorial said: "Samosa-makers may be happy and another case struck from the superior judiciary's docket, but was it the court's best use of time at this stage?"
In the past, the apex court tried to fix the price of sugar at a time when there was an artificial shortage of the commodity in the market.
However, traders largely ignored the rate fixed by the court and sold sugar at higher prices.
The Supreme Court is currently locked in a standoff with the government over reopening graft cases in Switzerland against President Asif Ali Zardari.
The government has refused to act, saying the President enjoys immunity in Pakistan and abroad.
The court on Wednesday gave the government time till August 8 to act on its order.