A woman holding a picture of the deceased victim of air blue crash—File Photo.

PESHAWAR: The federal government has decided to appoint a board of accident inquiry into the Airblue plane crash in line with the orders of the Peshawar High Court, which had expressed dissatisfaction at an early probe.

A high court bench comprising Chief Justice Dost Mohammad Khan and Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth was informed on Tuesday that the defence ministry had issued a notification on February 17 wherein it was mentioned that the federal government had decided in public interest to appoint a board of accident inquiry into the July 28, 2010 Airblue crash, which left 152 persons on board dead on Margalla Hills.

Senior law officer of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Ubaidur Rehman Abbasi informed the bench that the authority had received the notification issued by the government which provided that the said board should exercise powers conferred under the Civil Aviation Rules 1994 and furnish its report to the defence ministry within 30 days from the date of notification of the chairman and the members which would follow shortly.

The court issued directions for the heading of the said board by a team of international experts and CAA and the federal government should have no controlling power towards it. It was added that as soon as the inquiry was completed, it should be submitted to the court.

The court was hearing a writ petition filed by former MNA Marvi Memon and some family members of crash victims. The bench fixed March 27 for the next hearing into the case.

Both defence and law secretaries tendered unconditional apologies to the court in written statements given in reply to contempt of court notices issued by the court during previous hearing on January 19 for not following certain court orders.

Lawyer of defence secretary Tanveerul Islam Khan and consultant with the law division Mohammad Jawed Iqbal submitted the replies on behalf of the two secretaries saying they had taken several steps in accordance with the court orders and could not even think of disobeying it.

Mr Abbasi and Mr Tanveer informed the bench that in line with that order, the defence ministry issued a letter to the CAA on February 15 directing it to approach International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and others for nomination of experts. CAA was also asked to direct PIA and other private airlines operating under their regulatory control to prepare themselves for safety audit/assessment to be done in pursuance of the court order.

The bench observed that this being serious issue because lives of citizens were involved on a daily basis in thousands and therefore, all authorities, including federal government, was directed to undertake inspection process at the earliest otherwise if any mishap occurred responsibility would lay on the relevant authority.

During proceedings, the bench expressed annoyance over CAA performance saying facilities at airports and in aircraft were not up to international standards.

The petitioner's lawyer, Umar Farooq Adam, said DNA tests of crash victims were not carried out as they were dumped in a single common grave in inhuman manner.

The bench directed the chief executive of Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims), where bodies were taken after the crash, to produce record of DNA tests on the next hearing. It said in case no such tests were conducted, then the government and Airblue were liable to pay for charges of tests and should be carried out at the earliest.