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PHC directs govt to submit report on PK-661 crash by Dec

PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court (PHC) has directed the federal government through the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)’s secretary and Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) chairman to submit the final investigation report on the PK-661 plane crash by the end of Dec this year.

A division bench comprising Justice Ikramullah Khan and Justice Musarrat Hilali issued the direction to the Civil Aviation Authority secretary and PIA chairman in the writ petition. The petition was filed by Shahzada Iftikharuddin, the then Member National Assembly (MNA) from Chitral, and Adnan Zainul, brother of one of the victims Salman, through Barrister Asadul Mulk.

They sought the directions for the government to release the final investigation report and compensation to legal heirs of the victims. Barrister Asadul Mulk, the counsel, submitted that the petitioners being aware of the fact that investigation into the causes of the crash of PK -661, like any other air crash investigations, would take time and patiently waited for the final report.

He informed the bench that the petitioners were initially verbally informed by the PIA and Aviation Authorities acting through their employees/agents that the investigation would take a few months.

The counsel said months had passed and the PIA and Civil Aviation Authority backtracked from own statements and assured the family members of the victims the report would be released in a year.

He pointed out that now more than a year had passed but the respondents were still unwilling to committing themselves to a timeline and propose a date or a tentative date for the release of the final investigation report of the tragic plane crash.

Arshad Jamal Qureshi appeared for CAA in the case. He submitted that black box and other necessary materials of the crashed plane had been sent abroad for examination and when the report was received, it would be shared with the prime minister and then submitted to the court.

However, he said the final report would still take months. On this, the court asked him to submit the report by end of December 2019. It observed that it was being given sufficient time in the form of six months to conclude the report.

The court fixed the case for January 15, 2020, with the direction to the respondents that non-submission of the final investigation report by the next hearing would tantamount to contempt of court and the court would deal with it accordingly.

The petitioner stated that in his capacity as an elected representative, he was duty bound to convey the plight of the aggrieved families, approached various authorities to the government.

Barrister Asadul Mulk pointed out to the court that not all liabilities had been discharged as under the Carriage by Air Act 2012, Rs5 million was the minimum quantum, in respect of which liability could not be excluded, but it did not represent the upper limit.

However, Mehmood Alam Khan, counsel for PIA, requested the court to grant more time to respondents as they had already discharged all their monetary liabilities towards the victims.

Should the final report reveals negligence on part of the carrier, then in such a scenario the Carriage by Air Act 2012 allows each individual to quantify his or her losses separately, which would be treated as additional to the Rs5 million already extended, he added.

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