ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court on Thursday expressed annoyance over Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) administration and ordered the authorities to submit a brief report about the mills. The top court also directed the government to submit its plan about running Pakistan Steel Mill (PSM) on public-private partnership.

A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Gulzar Ahmed issued these directions while hearing the PSM employees’ case.

The court said to the federation’s counsel what you are going to do would lead to disaster. It further said that you are dealing this important matter poorly.

Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed remarked that according to the government lawyer Section 11 of Industrial Relations Act, 2012 will create obstacles in this matter but in our view it will be the main hurdle. The CJ said that if the employees were fired, there would be five thousand more cases.

He said that due to this plan there would be more than 500 cases in the courts and the government would have to give jobs to the same people.

The Additional Attorney General informed that the cabinet has not yet decided to lay off all employees of PSM. Justice Ijaz-Ul-Ahsan said that according to the plan, the government would lay off 95 per cent employees and make fresh recruitment on contract basis. At present 320 cases of PSM are pending before the High Courts and 29 in Supreme Court, he added.

The PSM counsel informed the court that Rs40 billion are required for the implementation of Public-Private Partnership plan. The court sought report from PSM and adjourned the hearing for four weeks due to the ailment of defense counsel Kamran Murtaza.

On the last hearing, the court had barred the federal government from selling the PSM land in order to pay gratuity and 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 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.