SHC seeks Karachi air crash probe report by June 25

Updated May 30 2020

Email

A two-judge bench of the Sindh High Court has directed the authorities to submit the report of the PIA crash by June 22. — Photo courtesy: SHC website
A two-judge bench of the Sindh High Court has directed the authorities to submit the report of the PIA crash by June 22. — Photo courtesy: SHC website

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Friday directed the authorities to submit the outcome of an inquiry being conducted into the crash of an aircraft of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) near Karachi airport by June 25.

A two-judge bench headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar was informed that the inquiry was under process and the federal government had already decided to make the inquiry report public and it was likely to be finalised on June 22.

A petition was filed in 2016 after an ATR aircraft had crashed near Abbottabad and the petitioner sought an investigation into various incidents of air crashes including the 2016 one.

After the Karachi air crash, the petitioner filed an application seeking urgent hearing of the petition.

PTA asked to take preventive steps to save data of mobile phone users

He also submitted a miscellaneous application stating that a PIA aircraft with 99 people onboard crashed in a residential area near Karachi airport on May 22 killing 97 passengers and crew members as only two miraculously survived.

He sought directions for the PIA to ground all aircraft immediately.

The bench observed that the main petition was about 2016 air crash and the petitioner raised the plea that ATR planes should be grounded by the PIA and the report was never disclosed as to what were the reasons of that crash.

It further stated that this matter was lastly fixed on March 17 when in compliance with a show-cause notice the secretary of the aviation division through a section officer and director general-airworthiness submitted an interim report which was taken on record.

On Friday, an assistant attorney general submitted that the inquiry into the Karachi air crash was going on and the federal government would make public its findings expectedly on June 22.

The bench observed that for this limited purpose, a copy of the latest application had been supplied to the assistant advocate general so that on the next date he could submit the outcome of the inquiry report of the incident.

The federal law officer further submitted that unless the inquiry report was submitted to the competent authority, no responsibility can be shifted.

The matter was adjourned till 25.

Petitioner Iqbal Kazmi moved the SHC after an Islamabad-bound PIA flight had crashed near Havelian after it took off from Chitral on Dec 7, 2016 in which 47 passengers and crew, including singer-turned-preacher Junaid Jamshed and his wife, lost their lives.

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

He further maintained that after the occurrence of such incidents in the past, it was the constitutional obligation of the cabinet secretary, the CAA DG and the PIA chairman to stop buying “outdated” planes, using them and risking the lives of passengers and crew.

The petitioner further submitted that despite having knowledge of the defects and malfunctioning of ATRs, the PIA and other respondents did not take any precautionary measures to prevent such incidents.

He pleaded for a judicial inquiry to fix responsibility on the relevant officials for it, prosecute them and order compensation to the legal heirs of the victims of the crash.

Protection of mobile users’ data

The same bench on Friday directed the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to take all necessary preventive steps to save the mobile users’ data.

The bench was hearing a petition seeking a probe into reports regarding data breach of 115 million mobile phone users from Pakistan and its sale on the darknet.

On Friday, the cybersecurity researcher of the PTA requested for time to file comments.

He further submitted that the PTA was already conducting an investigation and the report was going to be concluded soon.

The bench directed him to submit the report along with all necessary preventive measures that can be taken by the PTA to save the mobile users’ data.

Petitioner Advocate Tariq Mansoor informed the bench that the Citizens Protection (Against Online Harm) Act, 2020 and Data Protection Bill, 2020 were under consideration, but the proper legislation had not been done yet.

The assistant attorney general requested for time to file comments and the bench directed him to also apprise it on the next hearing as to what legislative measures were being taken by the federation on this subject.

Plea for FIR against aviation minister, others

A district court on Friday directed the Model Colony SHO to conduct an inquiry on an application seeking registration of a case against Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan, PIA chief Arshad Malik and key engineering officers over PK-8303 crash, adds Our Staff Reporter.

Judge Khalid Hussain Shahani also directed the police to file a detailed report in this regard on June 2.

Advocate Qadir Khan Mandokhel had filed a petition seeking a direction for the SSP-East and the SHO to book the aviation minister, the PIA chief and others for their alleged negligence in checking the ill-fated plane before allowing it to fly.

In the plea, the applicant stated that it was the responsibility of the ground engineer and other team members at the Allama Iqbal Airport, Lahore, to inspect the plane and stop it from flying if it had any technical fault, “but they failed to complete such formalities and take necessary steps”.

He claimed the aviation minister, PIA chairman, chief engineer, ground engineer and other staff members were responsible for the tragedy.

After the crash he had lodged a complaint with the Model Colony SHO “which is still pending and no action has been taken against the nominated persons”.

He said he had no confidence in local investigation into the plane crash, therefore, an impartial probe into the incident be made at the international level.

He added that a delay in the investigation would benefit those responsible for the crash, therefore, the voice box of the pilot/captain of the crashed plane, its black box, digital box and video recording be brought on record and produced to ensure a transparent and fair investigation.

Published in Dawn, May 30th, 2020