SHC issues show-cause notice to aviation secretary over failure to file progress report in aircraft crash case

Updated 22 Jan 2020

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The two-judge bench headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar observed that despite clear directives issued in the last hearing, neither the aviation secretary deputed any officer to appear before the court nor filed a progress report. — Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons/File
The two-judge bench headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar observed that despite clear directives issued in the last hearing, neither the aviation secretary deputed any officer to appear before the court nor filed a progress report. — Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons/File

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Tuesday issued a show-cause notice to the aviation department secretary for not filing a progress report regarding a pending inquiry into an ATR aircraft crash in 2016.

The counsel for Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) informed the SHC that out of 12 ATRs only six were operational and the remaining were grounded for their lack of airworthiness.

The two-judge bench headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar observed that despite clear directives issued in the last hearing, neither the aviation secretary deputed any officer to appear before the court nor filed a progress report.

On Dec 12, the bench had issued directives for the aviation department secretary to depute an officer concerned to appear in court on Jan 21 with a progress report and also asked the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to file a report regarding the number of operational ATRs, details about grounded ATRs, issuance of airworthiness certificates and whether proper procedure was followed before issuing such certificates.

When the matter came up for hearing on Tuesday, the lawyer for the PIA submitted a report and informed the bench that only six ATRs were currently operating.

PIA official tells court six ATRs operational in flag carrier’s fleet

The bench observed that the report was containing manufacturing dates of the ATRs, dates of induction in the PIA fleet and total hours of running. However, again no maximum number of flying hours was mentioned to discard the aircraft from the fleet nor the exact discarding age of the aircraft from the fleet was mentioned.

CAA joint director Amir Hussain and law officer Fayaz Hussain were in attendance, but they failed to file any reply and when the bench asked them specifically regarding the maximum age of ATRs with flying hours, they were unable to response.

Therefore, the bench issued a notice to the director, airworthiness, CAA, for in-person appearance at the next hearing.

The court also expressed resentment since nobody was in attendance on behalf of the aviation secretary while no federal law officer was present on Tuesday to apprise the bench of the latest position about the pending inquiry.

Subsequently, the bench issued a show-cause notice to the aviation secretary for Feb 18 that why he had failed to file a reply in court and said that the show-cause notice must be served through the district and sessions judge, Islamabad, and courier service as well as through the attorney general office.

A woman turned up during the last hearing and informed the bench that she had come to know about the pendency of this petition and appeared to witness the proceedings since she said her son Ahmed Mansoor Janjua, first officer, was in the ATR that crashed in December 2016.

She further submitted that despite various approaches neither the CAA nor the PIA informed her about the fate of an inquiry into the ATR crash.

Responding to a bench query, a CAA official had contended that an inquiry was being conducted by an aircraft accident investigation and inquiry board at the federal capital under the aviation division.

The petition was filed after an Islamabad-bound flight of the national flag carrier had crashed near Abbottabad after it took off from Chitral on Dec 7, 2016 in which 42 passengers and crew, including singer-turned preacher Junaid Jamshed and his wife, lost their lives.

Impleading the PIA, CAA and others as respondents, the petitioner argued that there were various incidents whereas ATR planes of the PIA had crashed in which a large number of precious lives were lost.

Published in Dawn, January 22nd, 2020