2010 airplane crash: ‘AirBlue to compensate heirs only if cases are withdrawn’

PHC tells heirs to file contempt of court plea against the airline.


Umer Farooq March 28, 2012

PESHAWAR:


Budget airline AirBlue has decided to compensate heirs of the 2010 crash victims if they withdraw their lawsuits against the company, the petitioners’ counsel told Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Tuesday.


“AirBlue has communicated to petitioners that compensation will be given to them once they step down and cases are withdrawn from court,” Umer Farooq Aadam, who is representing the aggrieved families, told a divisional bench of the PHC, which is headed by Chief Justice Dost Muhammad Khan. He said that despite court orders, the company has not paid compensation, which is worth Rs5 million.

“File a contempt of court application and submit it,” the chief justice told Aadam, adding that the court will continue with the case until the heirs of the last victim were compensated.

Aadam told The Express Tribune that the airline’s administration, in order to protect 152 companies that can be held responsible for the crash, had also asked the heirs to sign a universal relief agreement, which bars them from filing a petition against these companies anywhere in the world.

PIA inspection

In an earlier hearing, CJ Khan had ordered the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to arrange inspection of aircraft of national carrier Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and other private companies and an examination of CAA’s own performance by experts from the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). The order was passed over reports that many PIA planes were unsafe.

Abdul Rehman Abbasi, CAA’s senior law officer, informed the court on Tuesday that a letter has been sent to the ICAO to send a team of experts. “They (ICAO) have sought time to send a team but to avoid further delay in inspection of aircraft, we request that a retired senior judge of the high court be appointed to inspect PIA’s planes,” he said.

But the CJ said that foreign experts should inspect PIA aircraft. “Why are you apprehensive of foreign experts? We have received information that substandard spare parts are being used to replace damaged ones. We know that a company grounded 65 aircraft when one of its aircraft crashed,” he said.

Speaking about the AirBlue crash, Abbasi told the court that all transcripts, including that of the pilot’s conversation with the control tower, radar and co-pilot, were available and could be produced before the court.

DNA tests of crash victims

Many crash victims could not be identified despite DNA testing at KRL Hospital in the federal capital, an official of Islamabad’s Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences told the court on Tuesday.

However, Junaid Hamid, a relative of a crash victim told The Express Tribune that KRL had demanded Rs4.6 million from AirBlue for conducting the tests but the company refused and DNA tests were never conducted. The report offered to be produced before the court is fake, he said.

Ministry of defence

Thirty-seven of 84 applicants had been compensated while 22 cheques are ready for distribution, according to Tanveerul Islam, counsel for the defence secretary, who appeared before the court on Tuesday. He said the heirs were paid Rs0.5 million each.

Barrister Momin, who also represented the defence ministry, told The Express Tribune that the Sindh High Court had directed district and sessions judges to dispose of applications of all successors pertaining to the compensation case within ten days of the date the application is filed.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 28th, 2012.

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COMMENTS (15)

Raza | 9 years ago | Reply

Air Blue should be ashamed of itself. First it allowed an unfit pilot's negligence to take so many precious lives. Now it doesn't want to be sued, and is using it as a condition for compensation payment. Air Blue's license should be cancelled.

Chulbul Pandey | 9 years ago | Reply

There is also a settlement procedure by way of a compromise, which the courts then decree upon. So when anyone says Air Blue is requesting heirs to withdraw cases what it can possibly mean is that Air Blue is perhaps willing to compensate the families of the victims provided the families withdraw the cases. Insofar as the suit/case remains pending the families can conintue to seek damages/compensation even if Air Blue has made a payout. They will be receving money twice. One point of view is that Out of court settlements/compensation end up being smaller figures but the point of it is to pay te families sooner rather than later. If it stays in court then its likely to conclude when the first woman becomes president of America!

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