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May 30, 2020

Plane crash inquiry expected to conclude by June 22, SHC told

Karachi

May 30, 2020

A high-level inquiry into the tragic Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane crash incident in Karachi has been in progress and is expected to be concluded by June 22, while the federal government has already decided to make the inquiry report public, a federal law officer informed the Sindh High Court (SHC) on Friday.

The law officer filed the statement on an application seeking the flight inspection of all the national flag carrier’s aeroplanes through international aviation authorities after the tragic plane crash on May 22.

Syed Iqbal Kazmi submitted in the application that he had also filed a petition with the SHC for a judicial inquiry into the December 2016 flight PK-661 crash, in which 42 passengers, including singer-turned-preacher Junaid Jamshed and his wife, and crew members had lost their lives, and despite several directions of the court, the inquiry report of the incident had not been filed by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

He submitted that during the pendency of the petition, another PIA’s A320 Airbus crashed on May 22 in Karachi’s Jinnah Garden locality, resulting in the deaths of 97 passengers. The applicant questioned the purchase of Airbus without newly assembled engines by the PIA and submitted that the CAA and PIA were bound to comply with the international airworthiness requirements and maintenance of the carriers.

The petitioner argued that after the occurrence of such incidents in the past, it was the constitutional obligation of the cabinet division secretary, the CAA director general and the PIA chairman to refrain from purchasing outdated planes and using them as it endangered the lives of passengers and crew members.

He requested the high court to take up the matter on an urgent basis and direct the PIA to ground all of its aeroplanes so that flight inspection of its fleet could be carried out by any international or independent aviation authority.

The federal law officer informed the SHC that an inquiry into the tragic incident had been initiated and the federal government had already decided to make the inquiry report public. He said the inquiry was expected to be concluded by June 22 and until its report was submitted to a competent authority, no responsibility for the crash incident could be fixed.

A division bench of the SHC headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar directed the federal law officer to submit the outcome of the inquiry report of the incident and adjourned the hearing till June 25.

Regarding the maintenance of the ATR aircraft of PIA, a counsel for the national flag carrier had informed that high court in January this year that only six ATR aircraft out of 12 were functional while the rest had been grounded due to non-airworthiness.