SHC grants bails to Karachi fire factory owners
15 September, 2012
KARACHI: Three factory owners facing murder charges over the deaths of 289 people in a huge fire in Karachi appeared in court on Friday to request pre-arrest bail, their lawyer said.
Workers burned to death or suffocated in the massive blaze that engulfed Ali Enterprises clothing factory, which made ready-to-wear clothes for export to Western retailers.
Police registered a murder case over the fire on Thursday, saying the owners – Abdul Aziz, Muhammad Arshad and Shahid Bhaila – had shown "utter negligence" about workers' safety.
The trio, who have not been arrested, appeared in the court in Larkana and were granted "protective bail" for eight days, their lawyer Aamir Mansoor Qureshi told AFP.
He said they went to the Larkana court as they feared for their lives in Karachi, which came to a standstill on Thursday as a mark of respect for the victims of Pakistan's worst ever industrial fire.
"We prayed to Justice Hasan Azhar Rizvi that we are willing to proceed through the legal course, and without a protective bail security repercussions were there," Qureshi said.
A court official confirmed the ruling, which means the trio cannot be arrested before September 22, and said the judge had ordered them to appear in court in Karachi before the bail expired. "The court also directed the immigration officials to ensure they do not leave the country," the official added.
MQM minister resigns
Sindh Industries Minister Rauf Siddiqui tendered his resignation to Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad Khan on Friday, saying he considered it necessary for a result-oriented investigation to provide justice to the widows and orphans of the deceased labourers.
Siddiqui distanced his ministry from the incident, saying it was only responsible for providing infrastructure and other facilities to industries. He said the Labour Ministry was responsible for looking after labouerers' working conditions in industries under the factories act. Similarly, he added, the Civil Defence Department was responsible for looking after the matters pertaining to fire, including fire-fighting, fire alarms, permission for installation of fire-fighting instruments, etc.
According to him, he did whatever he could and that his department was neither empowered to take action against anybody nor was anybody bound to obey his department's orders. However, he added, he had cancelled the allotment of the garments factory and imposed a fine on the factory owner, Rs 0.5 million for each deceased, and Rs 0.3 million for each injured, for committing negligence.