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November 14, 2019

CAA, PIA told to submit reply to plea seeking inquiry into plane crash

Karachi

November 14, 2019

The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Wednesday directed the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and others to file comments on a petition seeking a judicial inquiry into the PIA flight PK-661 crash in which 42 passengers, including singer-turned-preacher Junaid Jamshed and his wife, and crew members had lost their lives.

The petitioner, namely Syed Iqbal Kazmi, told the court that an Islamabad-bound flight of the national flag carrier had crashed after it took off from Chitral on December 7, 2016. He said the CAA director general had written to his seniors making startling disclosures about the functioning of ATR planes.

The petitioner said that 20 incidents were recorded in which the engines of ATR planes used by the national flag carrier had stopped during flights. Besides, 90 cases of ATR planes’ removal of engines were recorded as well, he added.

He said that despite having knowledge of the defects in the aircraft, the respondents did not take precautionary measures to avoid accidents and save previous lives.

He argued that after the occurrence of such incidents in the past, it was the constitutional obligation of the cabinet division secretary, the CAA DG and the PIA chairman to refrain from purchasing outdated planes, using them and risking the lives of the passengers and crew members.

Kazmi claimed that the respondents had violated Article 9 of the Constitution as well as the civil aviation rules. He pleaded for a judicial inquiry into the crash to fix responsibility on the relevant officials and prosecute them, and for ordering compensation to the legal heirs of the victims.

He requested the SHC to direct the respondents to ground all the planes currently being used by the PIA and to order their inspection by the CAA or any other independent investigating agency or department. The counsel for the CAA once again requested further time to respond.

A division bench headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar observed that the matter had been pending since the past three years, and so he gave a last chance to the CAA to file comments on the petition by November 29.

The court also issued a notice to the PIA chairman to ensure that their comments would be filed and a representative of the national flag carrier would appear before the bench in the next hearing.

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