The Sindh High Court has directed the Civil Aviation Authority to explain and satisfy the court as to why the inquiry report of the AirBlue plane crash in Islamabad is not being made public in view of Article 19-A of the Constitution.
The court was hearing the petition seeking an inquiry into the Air Blue plane crash in Islamabad. The Human Rights and Civil Liberties Society of Pakistan, through its Chairman Nisar A Mujahid, submitted in the petition that 152 people lost their lives in the plane crash in Islamabad on July 28 last year while no report regarding the reasons of the crash has so far been made public.
He mentioned that the Airbus A-321 that crashed in Islamabad was fitted with one of the most modern and sophisticated electronic equipment and alarms that give warning by making a noise in the flight deck, specially in the ears of the pilot and the co-pilot, besides having various flickering lights cautioning and asking the pilots to ascend or divert immediately if a hill comes ahead or the altitude falls lower than the stipulated level.
The counsel said that ignoring all such caveats was itself a sheer negligence of the flight deck crew. He submitted that as many as 17 civilian air crashes had occurred in Pakistan since 1947 in which the causes behind three incidents could not be determined but in 64 per cent of the determined cases pilots were held responsible.
He prayed the court to direct Air Blue, Civil Aviation Authority and Ministry of Defence to hold an impartial and credible investigation expeditiously, disclosing the cause of the crash and making recommendations to avoid such incidents in future. He also requested that Air Blue be directed to provide information as to what compensation had been given to the heirs of the crash victims, how many had so far been compensated and if not then show the cause behind the delay in this process.
The Civil Aviation Authority’s counsel informed the court that the inquiry report of the plane crash has been sent to the prime minister, saying, it could not be made public under the civil aviation rules.
The SHC’s division bench headed by Chief Justice Mushir Alam observed that as to why the inquiry report has not been made public despite the fact that every citizen has the right to have access to information in all matters of public importance subject to regulation and reasonable restrictions imposed by law. The court directed the CAA counsel to satisfy the court as to why the inquiry report was not being made public in view of Article 19-A of the Constitution.
Plea for AIDs program funds: Meanwhile, the Sindh High Court was informed by the provincial law officer that Sindh Aids Control Program would be continued under the Health Department by proper financing and other functional modalities.
Hearing the petition seeking the allocation of appropriate funds for the treatment of HIV/AIDs patients as well as for an awareness campaign, the court directed secretary finance to file comments on the petition.
Petitioner Syed Iqbal Kazmi, a representative of Human Rights Commission of South Asia, submitted that 79,560 people had been diagnosed to be living with HIV/AIDS in Sindh, which was 52 per cent of the entire HIV/AIDs patients in the country. He said that the government was duty-bound to provide medical facilities to these patients without any discrimination and to make efforts to prevent the disease.
He said that the World Bank was funding the government under the AIDs control programme but the funding was ceased in 2009 due to corruption. He noted that at present no budget had been allocated by the government for AIDS control programme, which, he said, was against the spirit of articles 25, 9, 35, 37 and 38 of the Constitution.
The court was prayed to direct the federal and provincial health ministries as well as the Finance Department to take measures for providing funds for the AIDS control programme and to initiate an awareness campaign in order to prevent people from catching the disease.
Health Department, SACP and Planning and Development Department submitted in their comments that 1,09,261 people had been screened for HIV/Aids in which 1,226 were identified with HIV/Aids and they were treated by the SACP. It was submitted that Rs.6.930 billion had been allocated for a total of 122 schemes including 64 projects and 58 new initiatives.
Show cause notice to IG Prisons: The SHC issued show cause notice to IG Prisons for not submitting inquiry report with regard to subjecting an under trial prisoner to torture and sexual abuse.
The show cause was issued on the petition of Mohammad Essa who sought action against jail officials for torturing his son Nazir Ali in Hyderabad prison. The petitioner submitted that his son was tortured by the jail authorities and later shifted to Sukkur prison without being provided medical treatment.
The court had ordered medical examination of the UTP and the medical board confirmed committing torture and sexual abuse on the UTP. During the previous hearing, the IG Prisons was directed to conduct inquiry and submit report without fail, however, no report was filed on Wednesday. Taking notice of the non-compliance of the order, the court directed IG Prisons to appear in person and explain inaction on his part. The court also issued him show cause notice to explain as to why his act may not be treated as insubordination of the court directives and why action may not be recommended against him.
Meanwhile, the same bench issued notices to Attorney General of Pakistan and Deputy Attorney General on the petition of an oil marketing company that assailed the issuance of notice by the National Industrial Relations Commission.
The oil marketing company’s counsel submitted that Industrial Relations Ordinance-2011 applies to the persons employed in any establishment situated in Islamabad or companies carrying out business in more than one province and it could not be extended to other provinces for being beyond legislative competence of federal legislature after the devolution of the subject to the provinces.
He contended that on the basis of IRO-2011 the petitioner company could not be directed to appear before the NIRC and prayed the court to set aside the impugned notice. The court, suspending the impugned notices, issued notices to Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General and adjourned the hearing for a date in office.