In order to continue investigations into the Bhoja Air crash, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) moved a court to get custody of the wreckage of the plane.
The CAA’s director-general moved the magistrate’s court on Saturday to seek possession of the wreckage after local police registered a criminal case pertaining to the crash.
In the FIR registered at the station, the Koral police cited Farooq Bhoja as responsible for the crash and resultant deaths.
Under criminal procedure law, after a case is registered, the wreckage becomes the property of the police and should, therefore, technically remain in its custody.
The CAA, however, has asked for the legal custody of the wreckage citing its 1994 aviation rules that allow the authority to carry out investigations and take into custody the wreckage of any plane after it crashes.
Senior legal officer of the CAA, Obaidur Rehman Abbasi, will have to file an affidavit assuring the court that the wreckage would be returned to the Koral police for their own investigation whenever they demand it.
Legal experts and CAA officials said that the requirement for moving a court of law was unprecedented as legal custody was not required for the wreckage of the Airblue plane crash in 2010.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Sajid Bashir, a former legal director of the CAA, said there is a difference between a simple roadside accident and an air crash. Under aviation rules, only the CAA has the jurisdiction to investigate an air crash. The FIR by the Islamabad police seems to have been misplaced, Bashir, who is now a practicing lawyer, added.
He said that an independent and neutral inquiry was needed to determine causes of the crash and the CAA was legally responsible and technically qualified to look into the matter.
A CAA official, on condition of anonymity, said the police were not competent to reach any conclusion regarding the crash or to fix penal liability. The official said that all crashes were reported to the police mainly by passengers or their families to claim financial compensation.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 29th, 2012.
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