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June 20, 2021

PIA’s plea dismissed against release of money to heirs of crash victim

The Sindh High Court has dismissed a petition filed by the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) seeking an injunction against the release of compensation amount in favour of legal heirs of a PIA plane crash victim and directed the national flag carrier to seek appropriate remedy as may be available in accordance with the law.

The PIA had filed a petition against the SHC’s single judge verdict which ordered the release of the amount related to fatal accident of Zara Abid in the PIA airbus crash in Model Colony on May 22, 2020, in favour of the legal heirs on PR bond.

The PIA’s counsel submitted that the airline had earlier filed an application against the sessions court order before the SHC, which by consent directed the Nazir of the court for release of amount of voluntary compensation of Rs10 million subject to signing of an agreement on June 3. He submitted that the counsel for the legal heirs filed another application related to the settled matter and the SHC’s single bench issued a direction to the Nazir of the court to release the amount in favour of legal heirs on PR bond, stating that the legal aspects of the mandatory requirement would be examined on the next date of hearing.

The counsel submitted that the SHC’s single bench passed the impugned order and reviewed the previous order which could not have been entertained by another judge of the court against the final order of June 3. He said the court also rejected the application for suspension of the impugned order so that the petitioner could avail the remedy available under the law. He submitted that the constitutional court must assume jurisdiction so as to avoid gross injustice being caused to the appellant by the act of the court in passing impugned orders.

He submitted that the petition had been filed only to the extent that the order of the court on June 15 and its implementation be deferred for a short period so as to enable the petitioner to seek appropriate remedy before the Supreme Court.

He submitted that the petitioner had been left without a remedy as the Nazir of the court was about to implement the impugned order, which, if permitted, would render the entire case of the petitioner as infructuous.

The high court, after hearing the PIA counsel, observed that the courts in a constitutional jurisdiction were not supposed to sit over an order passed by another judge of the court. The SHC observed that the petitioner had sought interim relief or injunction and since the court could not finally hear and decide the legality of the impugned orders, they were not empowered to given an injunctive relief under the Article 199 (5).

The high court observed that the court acting under the Article 199 could issue a direction to any person; however, the definition of person excluded the high court judges and that too exercising jurisdiction under the law.

The SHC observed that was is not material as to whether such jurisdiction was vested in the high court judge or not but what was relevant is that no writ lied against the high court judge in the instant matter. The bench observed that the petition was not maintainable and accordingly it was dismissed.