ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court of Pakistan Tuesday turned down Air Marshal Arshad Malik’s appeal to reinstate him as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA).

A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmad permitted the board of directors to perform functions for the running of the national carrier of PIA.

During the hearing, Justice Gulzar remarked that Air Marshal Malik was appointed temporarily. He questioned the appointments of two air vice marshals, four air commodores, three wing commanders and one flight lieutenant in the PIA.

Justice Gulzar asked, “How can Arshad Malik make such appointments when he himself is appointed on deputation?”

Justice Sajjad Ali Shah also expressed concern over the increase in fares, and said another case pertaining to the PIA chief’s appointment was already being heard in the Supreme Court. “You are running the national airline’s affairs like those of a family business […] How can you manage PIA when you failed Shaheen Airways miserably?” he said.

Earlier, a two-member bench of Sindh High Court (SHC) in its order had also restrained chief human resource officer and the airline’s board of directors, through its chairman/CEO, from carrying out any function as well as encumbering or disposing of assets of the national flag carrier valued over Rs10 million.

In his petition, Malik stated that negotiations for export of planes were conducted by him with Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Egypt, Argentine and Nigeria with orders obtained from them later.

He also said that he was posted as Deputy Chief of Air Staff (Personnel) for a year, dealing with human resources issues, both of civilians and serving Air Force employees. This assignment included HR Planning, Career Profession Development of the entire Human Resources of the PAF, all over Pakistan.

Malik informed the court that before deputed to PIA he was the Vice Chief of PAF looking after the PAF budget, flight safety, training institutes and media affairs.

A petitioner Safdar Anjum had challenged Arshad Malik’s appointment in the SHC. He took the stance that Air Marshal Malik was a senior serving officer of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) and his appointment as the PIA chief was made in utter disregard of the law laid down by the apex court in its August 3, 2018 judgement against the appointment of the then CEO.

Attorney General  Anwar Mansoor pleaded that an advertisement was given for the appointment of chief executive and Arshad Mahmood was confirmed as CEO of PIA as per the procedure.

At this, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah remarked that the advertisement has to be reviewed whether it was issued with a ‘particular design’. “We will look at old advertisements also,” he added.

The court said that they would also see whether the process of appointment was transparent and the requirement of law was fulfilled?

Mansoor Khan said that the federation has appointed Air Marshall Arshad Malik as per the rules. He informed that for the appointment of chief executive officer, an advertisement was given and Arshad Mahmood was confirmed as CEO of PIA as per the procedure.

Salman Akram Raja, appearing on behalf of PIA’s Senior Staff Association (SASA) said that the present PIA management had stopped the PIA Board from performing its duties.

The Chief Justice observed that the PIA is being run like family business and they keep persons whom they like and remove the employee, whom they do not.

Later, the bench deferred hearing for two weeks for further proceedings.