ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) reserved its judgment in the Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) corruption case on Thursday since the . PSM’s counsel Fakhruddin G Ebrahim was not present in the hearing.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, heading a three judge-bench, asked Ministry of Production secretary Gull Muhammad Rind about the ministry’s response, saying that, “Corruption at PSM is an established fact now. Only in the year of 2008-09, PSM witnessed losses of Rs26.5 billion,” chief justice said.
Rind apprised the bench that, in compliance of the court’s directions, he had discussed the issue with the minister, adding that the ministry would decide the issue after taking possession of all the records of the case from the custody of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).
The court, reacting to Rind reply, said, “What decision you will take, since you already have the PSM audit report of the last six months?”, to which the secretary replied, “Whether we should refer the matter to National Accountability Bureau (NAB) or not.”.
The court observed that, “We invoked a suo motu jurisdiction in 2009 in view of the massive corruption at PSM and there was an opportunity for the relevant ministry to hand over the case to NAB and proceed against persons who were responsible for this plunder.”
Justice Khilji Arif Hussain, a member of the bench, observed that NAB was in a position of a plea bargain to recover the looted money. The Chief Justice, unhappy with the relevant ministry’s apathetic attitude, announced that “arguments are reserved.”
The court would announce its judgment later.
During hearing, Barrister Zafarullah Khan, a volunteer petitioner in the case, told the court that after the Supreme Court’s intervention to revert the government’s decision regarding privatization of PSM, everybody was busy in looting the organization, to which the chief justice said that it was not their domain to run its day to day affairs.
Addressing Barrister Khan in a taunting tone, Justice Khilji said that the SC was not responsible for the management of PSM after the court had intervened in the matter.
Khan separately submitted a report regarding the corruption in PSM, saying that none of the PSM directors was qualified and chief executive was not being appointed deliberately.
PSM counsel, Ebrahim did not appear before the court today. He had earlier shared a forensic audit report with the apex court in the previous hearing, saying that the FIA was reluctant to take action against responsible persons and all accused were set free.
Meanwhile, talking to The Express Tribune, law ministry sources in law ministry said that the ministry has shown its concern over the appointment of Ebrahim by the PSM Board as legal counsel without their prior approval.
In a letter to the PSM management, the ministry of law conveyed its objection over this decision, stating that “PSM Board is not competent to engage any legal counsel/legal adviser without the ministry’s approval...”
The letter also demanded that “PSM management to conduct an enquiry in the matter to fix responsibility for the lapse and to take steps to effect recovery of the amount (Rs5 million) paid to the counsel and furnish a detailed report to the law ministry.”
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