Thursday May 30, 2024

Coronavirus result of govt’s incompetence: Courts can’t be shut down, says CJP

By Sohail Khan
March 19, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday questioned the inadequate preventive measures taken by the government to deal with the coronavirus and observed that the epidemic had invaded Pakistan due its incompetence.

Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Gulzar Ahmed gave this observation during the hearing of Air Marshal Arshad Malik’s plea, seeking a stay against a Sindh High Court (SHC) order that restrained him from working as the PIA CEO in a suo motu case pertaining to the national carrier’s privatization.

The other two members of the three-member bench, headed by the chief justice, comprised Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah. The chief justice observed that the government had not taken effective preventive measures for dealing with the COVID-19 and asked the superior courts to stop hearing the cases.

Criticising the inadequate steps of the government on the issue, the chief justice observed that the epidemic came to Pakistan due to the incompetence of the government, as no effective preventive measures had been taken to check the affected persons on airports and in border areas.

“If concrete measures are not taken pertaining to security, more and more diseases may land in the country.Look at the worst conditions at the quarantine facilities,” the CJP said and questioned whether the government could be seen anywhere.

Referring to the letter addressed by the Ministry of Law and Justice to the registrars of superior courts requesting adjournment of civil cases for three weeks, the chief justice said the government did nothing but asked the courts to stop working.

He made it clear that they could not shut the courts but would take effective preventive measures to cope with the epidemic.

Earlier, the court allowed Air Marshal Arshad Malik to continue as the PIA Chief Executive. Suspending the SHC order, the apex court reinstated him in the post on interim basis and summoned him as well as the union office-bearers on the next date of hearing.

The chief justice observed that they know that many lobbies were active against the PIA and in this regard he referred to a recent incident wherein a person was tortured at the Karachi airport.

The Customs and FIA are mafias where their personnel are bent upon ridiculing the general public at airports.

At the outset of hearing, Attorney General Khalid Javed defended the appointment of Air Marshal Arshad Malik and submitted that he was a competent person and the government expected that he would be able to resolve most of the issues of the department. Besides pointing out flaws in the national flag carrier, he also talked about its good performance.

The chief justice, however, observed that in the past people like Air Marshal Noor Khan and Asghar Khan had served the national flag carrier but now some united lobbies were against it.

The attorney general said the present CEO wanted to steer the department out of problems and hopefully he would be able to accomplish the task.

Adjourning the hearing until April 4, the court sought complete details of the contract awarded to Air Marshal Arshad Malik and directed the airline management to submit report justifying the continuation of particular contracts.