The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Monday reserved its order on bail pleas of owners, production manager, and watchman of the garment factory of Karachi that caught fire on September 11 last year and resulted in more than 250 deaths.
Police had arrested Arshad Bhaila and Shahid Bhaila after a sessions court rejected their pre-arrest bail applications on October 6, 2012, whereas their ailing father, Abdul Aziz Bhaila, was granted bail due to old age.
Amir Raza Naqvi on behalf of the applicants, namely Arshad Abdul Aziz and Shahid Abdul Aziz, submitted that investigation carried out by the police into the incident was influenced and full of errors. He said that they had no intention to kill their own workers and ruin their own business, adding that it was just an accident.
He said that police recorded the statements of more 800 witnesses, and not a single witness had testified that the factory owners had ordered to seal the factory doors when the fire erupted.
He submitted that police had forced some witnesses to record their statements against the factory owners.
While representing the factory’s production manager Mansoor Ahmed, Advocate Khawaja Shamsul Islam reiterated that his client was innocent and was suffering from diabetes. He said that his client fell unconscious when the factory caught fire.
Lawyer Muhammad Tamaz Khan, who was representing the factory watchman namely Arshad Mehmood, appealed to the court to grant bail to his client as he was not even present at the time when the factory caught fire.
Meanwhile, special public prosecutor Shazia Hanjra informed the court that police had recorded statements of 830 witnesses. She said that all witnesses had testified that the doors of the factory were closed.
She submitted that the factory owners had been nominated in FIR 343 of 2012, registered at the SITE-B Police Station under Sections 435, 436, 337, 322, 302 and 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC). Furthermore, she said that investigation officer on his own had excluded section 302 of PPC from the last submitted charge sheet against the factory owners.
She stated that the factory was built as a jail as it had no emergency exit doors and fire-fighting equipment were also not installed in the factory’s premises.
Investigation officer Jahanzeb informed the court that he had gone through the whole investigation of incident. He held that section 302 of PPC could not be invoked against the factory owners. After hearing their arguments, Justice Ghulam Sarwar Korai reserved the order.
Court issues notice to principal secretary to PM
KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Monday issued notices to the Principal Secretary to Prime Minister (PM) Raja Pervez Ashraf and others to appear before the court on February 14, for allegedly interfering in the Baldia factory fire case. A local Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) had submitted a petition in the court requesting to take notice of interference by PM Pervez in the Baldia factory fire case and had asked the esteemed court to declare this official interference as illegal. The case previously filed against the owners of the burnt down garment factory in Baldia Town Karachi was withdrawn on the PM’s discretion, State Minister for Finance Salim Mandviwalla had said on January 23. The petitioner argued that the PM had acted in complete disregard of the constitution and the decision to withdraw a murder case was against the notion of provincial autonomy mentioned in the 18th constitutional amendment. SHC’s Justice Maqbool Baqir after hearing the petitioner’s arguments, issued notices to Ayub Qazi, the Principal Secretary to PM Pervez, the Sindh government, Sindh Inspector General of Police(IGP), the owners of the destroyed factory and others to appear before the court on February 14 and submit their replies in this regard. It is important to mention here that a deadly inferno at a garment factory in Karachi’s Baldia area had claimed at least 258 lives in September last year.