Islamabad - The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday again issued notices to federation in a petition challenging an advertisement published in media inviting the international companies to privatise three airports of the country.

A single bench of IHC comprising Justice Aamer Farooq conducted hearing of the petition and issued notices to federation directing it to submit written reply in this matter.

After issuing the above-mentioned directions, the court deferred the hearing till June 7 for further proceedings.

Previously, the court had issued notices to the respondents directing them to submit their reply in the petition moved by Employees Unity of Civil Aviation Authority through its Chairman Rao Muhammad Aslam.

Privation Commission of Pakistan, Aviation Division and Civil Aviation Division have submitted their replies in this matter. However, the federation has yet to submit its reply.

The petitioner filed the petition through his counsel Hafiz Arfat Ahmad Chaudhary and cited the Federation of Pakistan through Secretary Aviation, Aviation Division through its Secretary, Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) through its Director General, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Aviation and Chairman Privatisation Commission of Pakistan.

He adopted in the petition that as per Section 3(2) of the CAA Ordinance, the CAA is a body corporate, having perpetual succession and a common seal with power to acquire and hold property both moveable and immoveable. It can sue and be sued by the name of Civil Aviation Authority. The petitioner stated that vide an advertisement dated February 7, 2017, CAA invited applications/proposals from international companies to privatise three international airports of Pakistan i.e. New Islamabad International Airport, Allama Iqbal International Airport Lahore and Jinnah International Airport Karachi and the last date for submission of applications/proposals was fixed as March 25, 2017.

He added that it was stated in the impugned advertisement that the companies desirous of participating in the process shall be responsible for operation, management and development works while a few other functions to be performed by such companies included airport operation and management, administration and maintenance of the airport buildings, allied infrastructure, equipment, systems and other facilities, found handling services and future expansions of airport infrastructure including runways, taxiways, car parks etc.  

The petitioner contended that the unexpected rather shocking news concerning privatisation of three major airports where major part of the workforce of CAA is deployed created a serious sense of insecurity among thousands of employees. All of them were surprised that as to why major components of a profit yielding organisation of Government of Pakistan are being privatised.

The counsel, Advocate Arfat, maintained that the financial performance report of CAA relating to the year 2015-2016 reflects that the CAA earned more than Rs50 billion during the said year.

He added that the representatives of different trade unions working in CAA immediately convened a meeting and constituted a joint action committee to take up the matter with the management of CAA. The matter relating to privatisation of three big airports of the country got attention of the print and electronic media. Besides raising serious questions about transparency of the proposed transaction/s, various irregularities and illegalities were highlighted by the media persons. Therefore, he prayed to the court to declare that the advertisement dated February 7, 2017 appeared in the print media whereby the CAA has invited proposals/applications to privatise/hand over control of three major profit yielding airports of the country is illegal, unlawful, based on malafide, violative of Section 6 of the Civil Aviation Authority Ordinance 1982/ Privatisation Commission Ordinance 2000 and against the interest and security of the country. He also requested to declare that all actions taken pursuant to the advertisement dated February 7, 2017 are illegal and unlawful and that Section 5(4)(ii) of the Civil Aviation Authority Ordinance 1982, which was introduced by the government of the present ruling party just before two months of imposition of emergency in the country in the year 1999 was based on malafide and against the interest and security of Pakistan with a further declaration that the said section is ultra vires the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan and consequently the same may kindly be struck down to the extent it allows CAA to award contracts for operation of airports and its establishment etc. to any third party.