ISLAMABAD: The Sup­reme Court has summoned the heads of local airlines, including Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, over alleged fake degrees of staff of the airlines.

A three-judge SC bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, which took up on Thursday a case relating to allegations of fake degrees held by pilots of different airlines, however, clarified that the court was summoning Mr Abbasi in the capacity of chief executive officer of Airblue and not as prime minister.

Interestingly, Prime Minister Abbasi is no longer the CEO of Airblue as the official website of the airline shows Tariq Chaudhary as the CEO.

“The company’s shareholding structure includes a group of investors, including Tariq Chaudhary with majority stake. Mr Chaud­hary also serves as CEO and Chairman of the Board,” reads the introductory statement at the website.

Apex court clarifies it is calling Khaqan Abbasi in capacity of Airblue CEO

The court directed the heads of the airlines to appear before its Karachi registry on Saturday, after it was told that the reports sought by the court had not been furnished.

Civil Aviation Authority’s additional director (legal) Nasir Ali Shah informed the court that the CAA had received reports about the degrees of pilots from Shaheen International Airline and Serene Air on Thursday and from Airblue on Wednesday.

A report submitted to the court through Additional Attorney General Sajid Ilyas Bhatti revealed that the degrees of 24 of the 451 pilots and 67 of the 1,972 cabin crew members of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) were found to be fake, while 17 pilots with fake degrees had already left the airline.

Five of them have obtained stay orders from the Sindh High Court and two from the courts of first-class civil judge in Lahore and Islamabad.

According to the report, the degrees of 319 PIA pilots have been verified and found to be genuine, while those of 124 pilots are under process. Seven pilots with bogus degrees are still working with the airline because of the stay orders.

According to the report, Shaheen Air, Airblue and Serene Air have sought more time to verify the degrees of their pilots and cabin crew as they have never done such an exercise before. A CAA committee, the report said, had directed these airlines through letters to complete the exercise in one month.

The moment the committee received a verification letter from the universities/colleges concerned, the same would be furnished before the court, it added.

The report said there were 3,667 pilots and cabin crew in all the four airlines and the CAA committee had sent data of 2,451 persons received from three airlines to different universities and colleges across the country for re-verification, adding that action had already been initiated by issuing show-cause notices to those with fake degrees for cancellation of licences.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court also took notice of lawyers holding fake degrees and sought a report on the matter form all bar councils within a month.

The apex court also issued a notice to the Higher Education Commission, directing its officials to cooperate with the bar councils in verifying the degrees since some lawyers were practising law without degrees while others were appearing in the court without licences.

Published in Dawn, May 11th, 2018