PIA CEO’s appointment
Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Mian Saqib Nisar on Tuesday ordered the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to continue its probe against Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) CEO Musharraf Rasool Cyan’s appointment.
“The Supreme Court is not suspending Cyan in a quo warranto petition filed against him as we do not want to set any wrong examples,” the chief justice said as he heard a suo motu case pertaining to a PIA air safari.
Justice Nisar had taken suo motu notice of difficulties faced by passengers at Skardu airport following a special PIA ‘air safari’ that caused a four-hour delay of a Skardu-Islamabad flight earlier this month. The chief justice also issued a notice to the national carrier for charging high fares on flights to northern areas. “Laws were not followed in the appointment of Cyan as PIA CEO,” Justice Nisar remarked. “The PIA CEO repeatedly misinformed the court,” he added. The chief justice further observed, “I was informed that the PIA CEO draws a salary of Rs1.4 million but later found out that he is paid Rs2 million.”
“We are taking PIA’s case very seriously and are waiting for the airline’s audit report over the last ten years,” Justice Nisar remarked.
Further, the chief justice noted, “We will be able to pinpoint corruption in the state-owned airline after we receive the audit reports.”
Regarding the air fare of flights to northern areas, Justice Nisar said, “Tickets to northern areas are priced at Rs32,000. The residents of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) want PIA to reduce the fare.” Justice Nisar also questioned why PIA had sought the services of Naeem Bokhari to fight their case.
“Why is PIA paying such a huge sum for their counsel’s fee?” he asked.
As the chief justice asked Bokhari whether he has taken up the case for free, the counsel said, “I am taking the fee to donate it to the dam fund.”
The top judge also noted, “Bokhari Sb, if you are PIA’s counsel then how will the next cabinet probe into the CEO’s appointment?” The chief justice then adjourned the hearing till Monday. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court wrapped up on Tuesday a suo motu notice taken after a video showing accumulation of rainwater at the New Islamabad International Airport went viral.
During the hearing, the additional attorney general (AAG) informed the bench that the rainwater had accumulated in the parking area and not the boarding counter.
Hearing this, Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nisar remarked that the parking area is also part of the airport. He observed further that the court has to look at the construction of the airport not its design.
During the proceedings, the video clip of the water accumulation was again played in court. When the court inquired into the cost of the new airport, officials of the Civil Aviation Agency informed that the initial cost was Rs37 billion which ballooned to Rs106 billion when the project was completed.
Chief Justice Nisar then observed that no one will take responsibility for the rise in the project’s cost, adding that despite a cost of Rs106 billion construction work is still under way.
In its observations, the court directed the relevant authorities to look into the airport’s design and if possible make necessary changes.