ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday dismissed a petition seeking contempt proceedings against some government functionaries for appointing Flight Lieutenant Khaqan Murtaza as director general of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

The court, however, asked the petitioner to file a separate plea against the appointment of Mr Murtaza as such a matter could not be taken up under contempt proceedings.

A notification on the subject issued by the Establishment Division said: “The federal government has appointed Flt Lt (Retd) Khaqan Murtaza, a BS-21 officer of Pakistan Administrative Service, presently posted under government of Sindh, as director general [of] Civil Aviation Authority, under section 10 of the Civil Servant Act, 1973 with immediate effect and until further orders.”

IHC asks petitioner to file separate petition

Mr Murtaza was working as the principal secretary to the Sindh governor. He was also the chief executive officer of the Sindh Infrastructure Development Company Limited.

Petitioner Capt Asim Nawaz, referring to the Nov 27 order of the IHC, alleged that Mr Murtaza, an officer of the Pakistan Administrative Service (PAS), was not a qualified person for the highly technical and challenging post, especially when Pakistan is facing a ban by the Inter­national Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) on flying by the country’s airline pilots to 188 countries. He said that Mr Murtaza was removed from the post of managing director of the Utility Stores Corporation (USC), but the incumbent government had appointed him to the much important and sensitive post of the CAA DG.

“It’s to bring to the kind notice of this Honourable Court that ICAO has already issued serious safety concerns about CAA Pakistan and if not handled properly according to inter­national aviation regulatory standards, it would have dire consequences against entire aviation industry of Pakistan,” the petition said, adding that the government has tried to obstruct the process of the court through deceptive skills and got appointed a DG against the rules, regulations and the Supreme Court ruling.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah, however, observed that the officer of the PAS cadre could be posted anywhere. He reminded the petitioner to be cautious since such litigation caused unnecessary embarrassment to the regulator.

According to the petitioner, the government was supposed to induct a suitable candidate among 18 shortlisted qualified professionals.

He said the aviation secretary had on Nov 7 informed the cabinet that they could not find a single suitable candidate among 600 applicants, which was false, fabricated and frivolous statement by him (Responsible 1 in the petition), as all shortlisted 18 aspirants were much more qualified than the present DG selected against the IHC orders, the petition contended.

Chief Justice Minallah, however, dismissed the petition, saying that the appointment of the CAA DG could not be challenged under the contempt of court law.

Published in Dawn, December 8th, 2020