ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court of Pakistan Thursday directed the federal government to submit its response regarding non-operational status of the Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM).

A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Gulzar Ahmed conducted hearing of the appeal against the Sindh High Court (SHC) order pertaining to payment of gratuity & provident fund of PSM workers.

Gulzar said that despite zero production from the PSM from 2015, the employees are still receiving the salaries and enjoying perks and privileges without work, adding that the government is paying billions of rupees annually.

remarked that the government lay off all employees and appoint new people if it wants to keep PSM running. “It seems the entire national budget has been spent on it,” he added.

Previously, the court had barred the federal government from selling Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) land in order to pay gratuity and the provident funds to its former employees.

The retired employees of the PSM in 2017 had filed a petition before the SHC and contended that they were not being paid their gratuity, leave encashment and provident funds since 2013.

They have submitted that gratuity and provident funds of the retired employees have not been paid by the PSM despite the court orders. They submitted that PSM had leased its land worth billion of rupees but the retired employees were not paid their pension benefits and other dues.

SHC in August this year had ordered seizure of the accounts of the Ministry of Production till payment of gratuity and outstanding dues of over 850 retired employees of the Pakistan Steel Mills. The federation has challenged the SHC before the apex court and had also filed the review before the High Court.

Late, the bench adjourned hearing for two weeks in this matter.