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KARACHI: Sindh High Court (SHC) on Wednesday approved for hearing a petition, seeking to restrain Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) from issuing new licences until reforms are made and executed in respect of its licensing process/regulations.

A division bench of SHC headed by Justice Khadim Hussain Sheikh approved for hearing the petition, which was filed by Zain Soomro Advocate. CAA, PIA, PALPA, Federal Minister Aviation and others have been made respondents in the petition. The petitioner said that "the 'right to safe air travel' is a fundamental right, which falls under the scope of 'right to life' guaranteed under Article 9 of the Constitution of Pakistan, 1973. As in these modern times no affairs of economy, government, life and business can be carried out in absence of protection of 'right to safe air travel'."

The petitioner submitted that CAA has remained unquestioned for decades on their institutional failure to perform their statutory duty under the Civil Aviation Ordinance, 1960 and has completely failed to perform its duties/obligations of an aviation watchdog - the licensing and regulatory body - under the Ordinance.

The petitioner also stated that federation has failed to safeguard the Right to Life and Right to Safe Air Travel of the citizens due to a lack of priority and interest. This is supported by the very fact that no air crash report has ever been completed and published in the history of Pakistan.

He stated that "the statements of Federal Minister for Aviation on the floor of the house (that around 30 percent of the pilots have fake licences and 262 out of 860 pilots did not even take their exams themselves, etc) are awful and appalling for our country, hence, need immediate indulgence of courts before it is

too late and added that until significant measures are taken CAA shall be restrained/banned from issuing new licences as they cannot be trusted until reforms are made and executed."

The petitioner said that it is high time that the federation shall make efforts on national level for revamping the licensing/regulatory structure of CAA and make it incapable of being by-passed and misused.

The petition said that High Court is a custodian of Human Rights guaranteed under the Constitution. The Petitioner seeks protection of the very basic right to life - the universal right - which the Federation of Pakistan and others respondent have failed to ensure altogether.

The petitioner requested the court to declare that CAA has failed to perform their statutory duty under the Civil Aviation Ordinance, 1960 and direct Federation of Pakistan to make a plan on an emergency basis for rebuilding/revamping the licensing system of CAA on international standards which cannot be by-passed at any cost and submit periodical progress reports before the court.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020