IHC dismisses plea against aviation minister

Updated 02 Jul 2020

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Expects parliament, PM to take action if Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan caused harm to state. — DawnNewsTV/File
Expects parliament, PM to take action if Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan caused harm to state. — DawnNewsTV/File

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday dismissed a petition seeking action against the aviation minister for prima facie causing irreparable loss to professional pilots, the national flag carrier and the state and people of Pakistan by alleging irregularities in their credentials.

The court said it would show restraint to intervene into the matter keeping in mind that both houses of parliament as well as the prime minister and the federal cabinet would not hesitate to proceed against Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan and the Civil Aviation Authority if the latter were found involved, in any manner, to have caused harm to the interests of the state or the reputation of professional pilots and the national flag carrier.

While presenting a report on the PIA plane crash investigations in the National Assembly, Minister Khan recently blamed human error for most of the air crash incidents during the last one decade in Pakistan. The minister then blamed 150 pilots, including those belonging to PIA, for faking their results and obtaining dubious licences from the Civil Aviation Authority. Subsequently, Pakistani pilots and airlines suffered credibility crisis across the world.

Expects parliament, PM to take action if cabinet member caused harm to state

While dismissing the petition seeking action against the aviation minister, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah observed: “The Senate, National Assembly, the Prime Minister of Pakistan and members of the cabinet are not only empowered but it is their constitutional duty to hold a member accountable if the latter is found to have violated his oath or his/her acts or omissions have prejudiced the interests of the people of Pakistan or the State.

“There is no reason for this court to doubt that the Prime Minister and other members of the cabinet would not be aware of the sensitivity of the matter and its serious implications for the image of Pakistan, the reputation of professional pilots and the national carrier, which in the past was acknowledged as one of the best in the aviation industry worldwide.

“Moreover, it can also not be assumed that the Senate or the National Assembly would fail in its constitutional duty under sub article (6) of Article 91 of the Constitution to hold a minister accountable.

“This court is confident that the Prime Minister and members of the cabinet will not hesitate in proceeding against a minister or the regulator if the latter are found involved, in any manner, to have caused harm to the interests of the State or the reputation of professional pilots and the national flag carrier.”

With this in mind, the court said it would show restraint to intervene into the matter, “because intervention in the matter would amount to bypassing the scheme of accountability of a member of the cabinet prescribed under the Constitution and undermine the principle of collective accountability of the cabinet”.

It elaborated that the court would definitely not be justified to assume that the PM and members of the cabinet would ignore or fail to take appropriate action on the basis of the principle of collective responsibility, if the acts and omissions of aviation minister Khan were in any manner found to have harmed the reputation of the national flag carrier and the professional pilots licensed by Civil Aviation Authority, whether rendering services in Pakistan or abroad.

Published in Dawn, July 2nd, 2020