SHC disposes of PSM privatisation, lay-offs plea

Says it cannot hear the plea until verdict is issued in PSM cases by apex court

​ Our Correspondent June 24, 2020

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) disposed of on Tuesday a plea challenging the privatisation of Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) and termination of its employees, after a representative of the attorney general of Pakistan submitted the federal government's reply on the petition.

A two-member bench, comprising Justice Omar Sial and Justice Zulfiqar Ali Sangi, hearing the plea filed by the Pakistan Steel Labour Union, maintained that the high court could not hear the plea after the Centre "clearly" stated in its reply that PSM lay-offs were made in light of Supreme Court's (SC's) observation regarding the steel giant going in loss.

The court remarked that the high court could not hear the plea until a verdict was issued in cases regarding PSM being heard by the apex court.

"However, the petitioner may challenge the high court's decision in the SC," remarked Justice Sial.

At this, Advocate Abbas Rasheed argued that the cases in the SC pertained to the promotion of PSM employees and not its privatisation. To add to it, PSM employees, in a bid to beseech the court to hear the plea, said that the future of 9,000 PSM employees was at stake. The court, however, maintained that it could not hear the plea until the SC issued a verdict in cases regarding PSM and disposed the plea.

Bail plea

Meanwhile, another two-member bench, comprising Justice Muhammad Iqbal Kalhoro and Justice Abdul Mobeen Lakho, directed police to present witnesses in Irshad Ranjhani murder case before the trial court. It further issued directives for the trial court to record witnesses' statements in connection with the bail plea of Raheem Shah, one of the accused in the case. Hearing Shah's bail plea, Justice Kalhoro remarked that the court could not issue any order with regards to the bail plea until witnesses were produced before the trial court.

According to the plea, while the SC had ordered that a verdict be issued in the case within three months, no progress was made in the case even after the stated period of time. It seeks Shah's bails in the light of SC orders and the accused's ill health.

At the hearing, the petitioner's counsel, Advocate Khawaja Naveed contented that the government's lawyer had been causing delays in the case proceedings on the "basis of technical issues," moving the court to approve Shah's bail as he was severely ill, having respiratory and cardiac conditions. He also appealed to the court to order the provision of medical assistance to Shah from a private hospital.

The court, however, directed the counsel to wait until the case's hearing in the trial court on June 6 and adjourned the hearing till July 8.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 24th, 2020.


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