KARACHI: The Supreme Court on Friday expressed resentment at officials of the Civil Aviation Authority over non-provision of proper facilities at airports and directed the CAA director general to submit a report within two weeks about improvements that had been made in the operations of airlines.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed also called a report from the CAA chief regarding facilities being provided at the airports to passengers in case of flight delays.
The bench that also comprised Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah asked the senior officials of the CAA to inform it of the maintenance, operations and collective security of the airports, details of number of incidents as well as complaints received regarding delays in flights and compensation to passengers and what action had been taken on such incidents/grievances.
Acting CAA director general Tanveer Ashraf Bhatti was found absent in court on Friday when the bench took up the matter regarding a compliance report on implementation of an earlier court order issued during the hearing of a suo motu case about inconvenience to passengers in baggage handling and delayed flights.
SC says currency, weapons, contraband being smuggled from airports but no video is found whenever suspects are caught
The chief justice expressed serious resentment at his absence and directed the officials of the CAA, who were in attendance, to immediately call the acting DG in court.
He also came down hard on aviation authorities and observed that smuggling of currency, weapons and contraband items were being made through the airports and deplored that there was no video recording when the recovery of such items was made from suspects.
He further observed that proper facilities were not available at airports as generally the passengers were seen sitting on ground when their flights got delayed.
An additional director of the CAA submitted that all the facilities were available at the New Islamabad Airport and efforts were being made to improve the facilities at other airports.
The chief justice snubbed the official and said that he knew about the facilities available at the airports as he had been travelling on a regular basis.
The acting director general of the CAA turned up during the proceedings and the chief justice expressed his displeasure for not attending the court on time, asking him whether he was unaware of the court’s directives.
It may be recalled that the then CJP Mian Saqib Nisar had taken a suo motu notice about inconvenience to the passengers in baggage handling and delayed flights and on March 31, 2018 a two-judge bench headed by the then chief justice had directed the CAA to file a report about action against airlines for delayed flights and said that the CAA and other agencies had to facilitate the passengers.
During the same hearing, the deputy attorney general had submitted a report regarding the recommendations of a commission which proposed several steps for facilitation of the passengers.
The commission’s head had submitted that there was no mechanism for providing facilities to the passengers in case of delayed flights, adding that in the last three months as many as 260 flights were cancelled and over 100 flights delayed at Karachi and Islamabad airports.
While taking the recommendations on record, the then chief justice had also constituted a monitoring committee comprising senior officers of the Airport Security Force, CAA and the Federal Investigation Agency to ensure implementation of the recommendations and also directed the CAA to file a report of actions taken against officials of airlines for delayed and cancelled flights and submit a report.
CJP pays respects to late Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim
After the hearing, CJP Gulzar Ahmed visited the Mewashah graveyard, laid a floral wreath on the grave of retired Justice Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim and offered fateha.
He was accompanied by senior puisne judge of the Supreme Court Justice Mushir Alam, Justice Faisal Arab, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah and Justice Maqbool Baqar.
Published in Dawn, January 11th, 2020