ISLAMABAD-The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Wednesday issued notices to the Attorney General for Pakistan in a petition seeking appointment of Director General (DG) Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on permanent basis.

A single bench of IHC comprising IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah conducted hearing of a petition filed by Syed Saqlain Akhtar through his counsel Zeeshan Zafar Hashmi Advocate.

After issuing the notices, the IHC bench deferred hearing in this matter till September 8 for further proceedings.

Justice Athar noted in his order, “Keeping in view the questions of paramount public importance raised in this petition, the learned Attorney General of Pakistan is put to notice for assistance. He shall seek instructions from the Federal Government and explain the unreasonable delay in appointing an eligible and competent person on permanent basis against the post of Director General, Civil Aviation Authority.”

He added, “It is expected that the learned Attorney General will satisfy this Court that appointment of Director General of the Authority on permanent basis is subject to the process of seeking applications through publication of advertisements.”

During the hearing, Mohsin Ali Section Officer appeared on behalf of the Aviation Division but he could not give satisfactory explanation to queries raised by the court. He could not explain that why the matter was delegated to the acting Director General of the Civil Aviation Authority when the Lahore High Court vide order, dated 05-12-2019, passed in a writ petition had directed the Secretary Aviation Division to consider the objections and pass a speaking order.

Ali also could not give a satisfactory explanation for failure to appoint an eligible and competent person as Director General of the Civil Aviation Authority on permanent basis for the last two years. He stated that twice advertisements were published but through the process a suitable person could not be identified.

The IHC bench said in its order that appointing an eligible and competent person against the post of Director General of the Authority falls within the exclusive domain of the executive organ of the State. It added that prima facie, it does not appear from the statutory provisions that the manner of appointment by way of advertisement has been prescribed.

The court observed, “It is noted that in the case in hand, the fundamental right of every citizen, guaranteed under Article 14 of the Constitution, is involved. The manner in which this case has been handled, prima facie, indicates gross mismanagement.”

It further said that the issue relating to licenses of commercial pilots and the proceedings conducted by the acting Director General of one of the most important regulatory authority i.e. the Civil Aviation Authority has profound consequences for the image of the country and the interests of the national airline i.e. Pakistan International Airline Corporation. It definitely affects the fundamental rights of every citizen.

The counsel for the petitioner contended that the post of DG Civil Aviation Authority has not been filled on permanent basis since last two years. He also referred to para 3 of the impugned order, dated 14.07.2020 wherein pursuant to the direction of the learned Lahore High Court in W.P no. 34997/2019, the matter was to be disposed of by the Secretary, Aviation Division. He also asserted that the Secretary Civil Aviation Authority is also holding the additional charge of the post of DG CAA.

In his petition, the petitioner also assailed order, dated 14.07.2020, whereby his Airline Transport Pilot License has been revoked. His counsel further contended that the petitioner was never confronted with any material relating to the alleged use of unfair means to clear ATPL theoretical knowledge examinations.

He argued that the posts of Secretary, Aviation Division and Director General, Civil Aviation Authority are held by the same person, therefore, the impugned order, dated 14.07.2020 is not sustainable.

He stressed that the impugned order has been passed in haste and that too in violation of the principles of procedural fairness.