Expeditious justice needed


In Pakistan’s history, the year of 2010 will be remembered as “year of air disasters” as just in four month’s short span 185 people lost there lives in three fatal aircraft accidents. It raised total death toll to 1066 caused by 31 aircraft accidents since 1947. Air travelling is considered as safest mode of long distance transportation but occasionally accidents do happen with dramatic and terrifying results. Tragically, in every plane crash two aspects are very common. First, an independent and transparent investigation of aircraft accident by the qualified persons and second is the payment of compensation to the victim’s legal heirs as per law.
It is worth to mention here that investigation reports of aircraft accidents have never been made public in Pakistan nor has any victim’s legal so far been compensated. Further, 63 years history witnessed that courts did not conclude even a single lawsuit involves air crash litigation. It is also pertinent to mention here that courts in Pakistan did not certify the air crash litigation for class action lawsuit. The air crashes of Airblue, JS Air, and Sun Way will be focus of massive aviation litigation by the victim’s legal heirs. Moreover, the rights of the legal heirs to get compensation present a thicket of complex legal obstacles. In case of Airblue Flight ED 202 two petitions have been filed.
One petition is pending before the Sindh High Court challenging the qualification of the investigation team while second petition is pending in the Peshawar High Court seeking the investigation report and also prayed that fleet of Airblue to be grounded till the findings of an independent board of inquiry. However, both petitions are nothing doing with the compensation payment which indeed is real issue. Even the federal government submits Airblue plane crash investigation report to the Peshawar High Court the victim’s legal heirs still to file separate lawsuits seeking damages against airliner.Fatalities in the event of aircraft accident result extremely complex aviation litigation.
Intricate theories of liability, application of law, assessing the quantum of compensation, substantive and procedural methods – these are just some of the issues. Further, it also involves multifaceted technical issues and requires advance level of expertise in case of manufacturer’s fault. In this situation, recovery of damages in air crash litigation has been unprecedented in Pakistan’s legal history.
Dr Naheed Fatima lost her husband in Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Fokker plane crash in Multan in July, 2006. She has filed a lawsuit against the PIA and Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in the Sindh High Court in 2007 demanding a sum of Rs 154 million as damages for financial loss, mental agony, and deprivation of parental care on behalf of herself and her three children. But now it has been over four years and she is still waiting for her lawsuit to be decided by the court.
With this background, 14 lawsuits have been filed in different foreign courts. One lawsuit was also filed by the victim’s family members in Illinois, US against Airblue for compensation which includes other respondents Airbus, Honeywell International, Hamilton Sundstrand Corporation, International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC), and GE Aviation Systems. However, this lawsuit was dismissed. Airblue Flight ED 202 was worst ever air disaster in Pakistan’s history. On July 28, 2010, an Airblue Airbus A320-321 carrying 146 passengers and 6 crew members from Jinnah International Airport Karachi to Islamabad crashed into Margalla Hills, Islamabad killing all 152 passengers on board.
Now it has been over nine months since the tragedy but the victim’s family members are still waiting for compensation. It is necessary that those concerned with the administration of justice should take a close look at the recent aircraft accidents in Pakistan and give justice to the families of the victims. Most of the victims were the sole bread-earners for their families and delay in the payment of compensation has made their life more miserable. They need expeditious and inexpensive justice.
Certainly, it is not the way of getting justice that 185 victim’s family of Airblue, JS Air, and Sun Way to file petition in the courts just to know who or what caused the plane crash that killed their loved ones and thereafter, again to file lawsuits for damages and wait for years with unending pain and agony. It is matter of fact that aircraft accidents have raised several questions which are affecting the fundamental rights of the victim’s legal heirs and the public at large.
The Supreme Court of Pakistan launched National Judicial Policy in June, 2009 to ensure free, fair and expeditious justice to those who suffer any violation of their rights. Under Article 184 (3) of the constitution the Supreme Court of Pakistan has original jurisdiction and empowered to take action, if a question of public importance with reference to enforcement of any of the Fundamental Rights is involved. Shah Murad, LLM is an Advocate of High Court. He can be reached at [email protected]


  1. Dear Sir,
    I am very grateful for your writing on air blue crash in this article. We need justice and following up. Do write for Monument at crash site also. I lost my mother shireen lodhi .
    Haris Lodhi

  2. Dear Mr Shah Murad,
    Thanks for taking up an important issue which has gone in the back ground. I lost my young son in the unfortunate crash and can understand the agonies which all the affected families are going through.
    The cases in Sindh and Peshawar High Courts have been filed by some bereaved families, requesting for holding an independent investigation and making it public so that lessons could be learnt and such disasters could be avoided in future making our skies safer.
    However, besides the investigation and compensation issues, there are many other aspects which need to be addressed. Some of these are;
    a. The authorities claim that DNA sampling was carried out after which only 19 unidentified bodies were buried at Islamabad Graveyard. But there are 70 unidentified graves. Why so?
    b. Why the DNA test reports were not shared with the affected families?
    c. There was complete lack of response and coordination by the concerned agencies like AirBlue, CAA, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Information, CDA, NDMA and PIMS etc towards handling the post accident affairs and facilitating the bereaved families. Some accountability of all these organizations need to be done for failing to meet their obligations as envisaged under ICAO Guidelines.
    d. Though at the time of crash the AirBlue Management and Government authorities, made very tall claims of erecting memorials at the crash site and the mass grave site at Islamabad. But despite lapse of ten months nothing has been done so far. The bereaved families who did not receive the remains of their loved ones are very sensitive about it.
    e. The Government announced compensation of Rs five lacs for each victim's family. Despite lapse of ten months not a single family has received this compensation.
    I will appreciate if you take up these issues also to create an awareness in our masses.

    Shamim Shaikh
    Father of Victim Hassan Adeel

  3. I will appreciate the feelings of Mr.Shah Murad menifesting the same expressions of each and every pakistani……..my heart is beating with you all those who lost any of their loved ones…..I love you all….may Allah rest all in paradise aamin!!!

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