Illegal deals done at airports, nobody to stop them: Justice Gulzar
KARACHI: Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Gulzar Ahmed on Friday reprimanded the Additional Director General Civil Aviation Authority Tanveer Ashraf over misbehaviour with passengers and insufficient facilities being provided at the airports. The CJP remarked that his job was not only to take benefits and salary, adding that foreign currency, drugs and other smuggled items were being transported from the airports. He said illegal deals were being done at airports but nobody was there to stop them and all the airports had become dangerous places.
The Supreme Court took an exception to lack of regulatory control of the Civil Aviation Authority at airports and directed director general CAA to submit details as to what facilities as well as compensation were provided to passengers in case of cancellation or delayed flights by the airlines.
Hearing a suo moto case with regard to inconvenience to passengers in baggage handling at airports and delayed and cancellation of flights, the SC’s three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed, directed theCivil Aviation Authority to file comments on action taken against airlines for delayed or cancelled flights at airports.
The court took notice over reports of drugs and foreign currency smuggling at airports and inquired from the CAA officer as to why video recordings of close circuit cameras were not available after such incidents.
The court observed that an organised racket was operating at airports, which used to remove the close circuit camera recordings to hush up the smuggling of foreign currency, narcotics cases and make deal with the culprits. The court observed that airports had become dangerous places where dealing of foreign currencies and drug smuggling have been taken place and the future of the country was decided.
The court directed the CAA to submit reports as to how many incidents on airports have been reported with regard to complaints of passengers to the authority and what action had been taken on such complaints. The court directed the director general CAA, along with additional DG, to appear before the court on the next date of hearing.
The court took notice over non-appearance of director general CAA before the court and inquired from the CAA’s director as to why DG CAA or concerned officer having conversant with court directives did not appear before the court. The CAA’s director submitted that the DG was not nominated yet and the authority was being looked after by the secretary aviation.
Justice Gulzar inquired from the CAA officer as to what facilities were being provided to the passengers in case of delay or cancellation of flights and whether they were compensated and properly accommodated by the airlines. The court observed that passengers used to sit on the floor and not being properly looked after at the airports in case of cancellation or hour-long delays in flights. The court observed that people used to travel through aircraft to save their time and their purpose fail when flights are delayed or cancelled.
The CAA officer submitted that accommodation facilities had been provided at the New Islamabad Airport whereas necessary instructions have been issued to the airport managers for providing facilities to the passengers.
The court questioned the structure of the New Islamabad Airport and observed that despite the government paid 10 times more cost of the airport, it could collapse any day.
The court observed that the CAA and other agencies working at airports have to facilitate the passengers and directed the acting DG CAA to appear before the court after the break.
Acting DG CAA Tanvir Ashraf Bhatti later on appeared before the court and submitted that he was not aware about the notice of the court and sought time to file details of information with regard to facilities being provided to the passengers in case of delay or cancellation of flights. He submitted that some flights were delayed due to harsh weather conditions but directions of the court had been complied with.
The court took an exception to non-compliance of the court directives and observed that the same would amount to contempt of court and concerned officer could be sent home for disobeying the court order.
The court directed the CAA to file report as what action had been taken against officials of airlines for delayed and cancelled flights and submit report.
The court directed the Civil Aviation Authority to submit details with regard to maintenance of the airports as well as operations of other agencies, including Customs, Airport Security Force and Federal Investigation Agency to maintain the security of airports.