–Court questions appointments of four AVMs, two air commodores, three wing commanders and one flight lieutenant in national carrier
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday rejected an appeal filed by Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Air Marshal Arshad Malik to remain on the post while raising suspicions on the appointment of 10 officers of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) in the national flag carrier.
The three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Gulzar Ahmed, called into question the appointments of four air vice marshals, two air commodores, three wing commanders and one flight lieutenant in the national airline.
“How can Arshad Malik make such appointments when he himself is appointed on deputation?” questioned the top judge.
The bench also noted that another case pertaining to the PIA chief’s appointment was already being heard in the apex court.
Malik had filed a petition in the SC, requesting a stay order against a Sindh High Court (SHC) order, which restrained him from working as PIA’s chief executive.
During the hearing on Tuesday, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, who was part of the bench hearing the case, said: “We want to see if the advertisement of PIA CEO’s post was designed with Arshad Malik in mind as he does not have the pre-requisite qualification, education or the expertise required for the job.”
Justice Shah also raised concerns over reports that a bid worth Rs70 million was awarded to a retired air commodore and said that the “fares of PIA had increased by 100 per cent” since Malik’s appointment.
“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 remarked.
The SC rejected Malik’s plea and handed the reins of PIA to the board of governors. The bench summoned the record of the case which is currently being heard in the SHC and adjourned the hearing until two weeks.
Earlier on Jan 1, a petition challenging Malik’s appointment was filed in the SHC by Safdar Anjum, the general secretary of one of the associations of PIA senior staff/employee.
The petitioner stated that Air Marshal Malik was a senior serving officer of the PAF whose appointment as the PIA chief was made in utter disregard of rules laid down by the apex court in its August 3, 2018 judgment against the appointment of the then CEO.
He maintained that the appointment was also made in violation of the Public Sector Companies (Corporate Governance) Rules of 2013 and Public Sector Companies (Appointment of Chief Executive) Guidelines of 2015 as both the laws were applicable to the PIA.
He added that clearly Malik lacked any qualifications, experience in the commercial airline industry or operating a commercial fleet under the civil aviation rules and international treaties.
Anjum insisted that he was filing the petition for the “enforcement of fundamental rights of all members of the association and the general public” since the PIA was a national asset.