Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar on Monday remarked that Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and Shaheen Air International (SAI) officials are “colluding to make a mess of things” as the Supreme Court resumed hearing a case regarding the airlines’ payment of dues to the CAA.
Justice Nisar was heading a three-judge bench hearing the case pertaining to a long-drawn dispute between both organisations regarding the airline’s non-payment of Rs1.5 billion to the aviation authority.
The CAA had partially suspended Shaheen’s international flight operations in July 2018 due to the non-payment of its dues ─ despite the Sindh High Court’s orders to this effect ─ leaving passengers stranded in China.
SAI had moved the high court against the CAA directive and the court ordered that the authority should not suspend the airline’s operations if it made the payments as per an agreed timetable.
The top judge asked CAA Director General Hassan Baig how much was payable to the aviation body by SAI, to which the CAA DG responded that Shaheen Air has yet to pay Rs1.34bn.
“Recovering dues is your job,” Justice Nisar remarked, adding: “It seems as though you have colluded to make a mess of things.”
“Where is the Shaheen Air chief executive officer?” the CJP asked. Baig responded that the CEO is out of the country, to which the chief justice remarked: “You drove him out of the country. You all are involved in this together.”
The chief justice asked how employees who had not received their salaries were getting by, and also wanted to know what assets SAI owns.
“Why not sell all of Shaheen Air’s property to recover the amount?” the CJP asked, summoning the airline’s CEO.
He asked for the SAI CEO to be present in court today or tomorrow ─ at the latest ─ and ordered a break in the hearing.