KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Monday issued notices to the ministry of aviation, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and others on a petition seeking a probe by a joint investigation team (JIT) into the alleged negligence in handling the wreckage and bodies of 2020 Karachi plane crash victims.

A PIA domestic flight, PK-8303, originated in Lahore on May 22, 2020 had crashed in Model Colony near Karachi airport killing 97 of the 99 passengers and crew members on board.

Yaseen Abdul Fattah Elaayi, an American citizen of Lebanese origin, petitioned the SHC and submitted that his father, Abdul Fattah Elaayi who was also a US national, was among the victims of PK-8303.

Citing the aviation ministry, PIA, CAA and Sindh Forensic DNA & Serology Laboratory as respondents, he submitted that the respondents had failed to preserve and deliver the belongings of his father.

He said the victim’s body was also not handed over to him due to flawed forensic results.

SHC asks petitioner’s lawyer to advance arguments on maintainability on March 18

When a two-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi took up the matter for hearing, the petitioner’s lawyer submitted that despite the lapse of a considerable time the respondents had not yet returned the belongings of his client’s father, which were shown to him after a DNA test.

He stated that there seemed to be no policy or standard operating procedure formulated by the respondents with regard to returning the belongings of deceased passengers to their legal heirs in case of such an eventuality.

He stated that the petitioner had been approaching the respondents since the air crash, but got no response whatsoever.

He maintained that though the petitioner had been duly compensated, he was also entitled to have possession of the belongings of his late father.

After a preliminary hearing, the bench issued pre-admission notices to the respondents as well as deputy attorney general for March 18 with a direction to file reply/comments, if any, before the next date with advance copy to the lawyer for the petitioner.

The bench in its order also said, “However, learned counsel for the petitioner may come prepared on the next date of hearing and to assist the court as to maintainability of instant petition as prima facie, it appears that claims of the petition may require evidence, whereas considerable time has also been lapsed.”

The petitioner stated in the petition that despite providing all identification documents to confirm his status as the rightful legal heir of the deceased, the respondents told him that the belongings could not be handed over to him due to an alleged family dispute.

He said he had also clarified to them that his father had divorced Ms Naboulsi many years prior to the incident.

He also submitted that after the air crash, he had travelled to Pakistan to fulfil responsibilities including providing DNA samples for identification of his father’s body, making burial arrangements and collecting his personnel effects.

However, the petitioner maintained that on June 3, 2020, he came to know that forensic results had been flawed due to negligence and incompetence of the Sindh Forensic DNA & Serology Laboratory, located at Karachi University.

Thereafter, the petitioner stated that he was taken to a morgue, where the body planned to be handed over to him as of his father’s, was found to be of Shabbir Kadir Chamdia.

The petitioner told the court that he was shocked to learn that his father’s body was handed over to another family that buried him.

He stated that he was denied the right to perform last rites of his late father.

The petitioner sought belongings of his father, publication of final investigation report and formation of a JIT to probe alleged negligence of the respondents.

Published in Dawn, February 27th, 2024

Opinion

Editorial

Security lapses
Updated 13 Apr, 2024

Security lapses

Ensuring the safety of foreign citizens is paramount, not just for diplomatic relations but for our economic future.
An eventful season
13 Apr, 2024

An eventful season

THE Senate chairman and deputy chairman were elected unopposed, and 41 new senators were sworn in on Tuesday,...
Living rough
13 Apr, 2024

Living rough

WE either don’t see them or don’t want to see them — not even when they are actively trying to get our...
Saudi investment
Updated 10 Apr, 2024

Saudi investment

The state has to address barriers that stand in the way of attracting foreign investment, and create a pro-business environment.
Charity for change
Updated 11 Apr, 2024

Charity for change

PAKISTANIS are large-hearted people who empty their pockets at the slightest hint of another’s need. The Stanford...