The Peshawar High Court has set aside its earlier order calling for the immediate suspension of the director general of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for having failed to comply with its orders about conducting safety audits of all passenger aircraft of the PIA and private airlines.
However, the decision has strings attached: the director general of the CAA will not interfere or influence investigations being carried out into the AirBlue and Bhoja Air crashes. An affidavit in this regard was submitted to the court by attorneys for the CAA.
Counsel for the CAA Shakoor Paracha and Obaidur Rehman Abbasi informed the PHC’s division bench that Nadeem Khan Yusufzai had only been appointed as CAA Director General a couple of weeks before the Bhoja Air crash, after which all court orders issued into the AirBlue crash and inspection of all Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) fleet by international experts had been complied with.
The attorneys went on to add that Yusufzai had served as a pilot and his appointment was meant to improve the CAA’s services. However, Chief Justice Dost Mohammad Khan seemed unimpressed by their arguments.
“We always hear that flights are delayed without any reason. Outside the country, whenever a flight is delayed, the airline apologises with the finest words possible.
“Two people at the helm of affairs, the PIA chairman and the director general of the CAA, should have reached the Bhoja Air crash site,” the chief justice said.
Counsel for the defense ministry, Afnan Kundi, informed the court that a summary regarding the suspension of Yusufzai had been sent to Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, adding that they were waiting for his approval.
Kundi told The Express Tribune that two officials of the International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO) had been nominated for conducting an independent inquiry into the AirBlue crash.
Meanwhile, counsel for the AirBlue crash victims, Umer Farooq Adam, interrupted court proceedings by asking why the CAA’s counsel were seeking a review into the court verdict when Yusufzai was still in his office.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Adam said Yusufzai’s appointment orders were issued by the defence secretary; therefore, suspension orders were also supposed to be issued by her.
“If I appoint anyone, then it’s my job to suspend him or her. If the defence secretary appointed Yusufzai, it’s her job to suspend him, not the prime minister’s,” Adam said.
The chief justice observed that the suspension orders had adversely affected various operations of the CAA.
“We would, therefore, impugn orders and conditionally recall orders of the suspension of the director general of the CAA with a clear warning that the undertaking given to the court, that the director general would not directly or indirectly interfere with experts investigating the AirBlue and Bhoja Air crashes, and if found involved, the court would pass a more serious order,” the chief justice said.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 24th, 2012.