SHC directs trial court to decide Baldia factory fire case in one year

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Tuesday directed the trial court to decide the Baldia Town factory inferno case within one year.

SHC Chief Justice Maqbool Baqar, who headed a division bench, disposed of an appeal filed by the factory owners, seeking its directions for the trial court to decide the case ‘preferably’ within one year. The bench observed that its direction regarding expeditious disposal of the case would not take away accused factory owners’ right to fair trial.

The owners of the ill-fated factory – Abdul Aziz, Arshad Aziz and Shahid Aziz – had filed a miscellaneous application in the petitions filed by NGOs – Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research, United Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and others seeking probe into the matter.

Faisal Siddiqui, the petitioners’ counsel told the judges that there had been misunderstanding and misconception about JIT report in the media, adding an impression was created as if such report had been rendered in the fire incident case. The report contains a statement of an accused, who was arrested in a case registered at Police Station of Artillery Maidan for possession of illegal arms, he said. He submitted such impression needed to be dispelled as the statement itself was based on hearsay only.

CJ Baqar observed that the report was an outcome of an investigation into some other crime and not result of a probe into the fire incident and the conclusion drawn in the report was that the accused was declared unanimously Black to be challaned in the criminal cases registered against him. Therefore, the bench directed the media to be careful and precise while discussing the court matters in future.

Eelier, the Rangers officer had submitted a joint investigation team (JIT) report of an accused, who revealed that a deliberate arson attack was carried out by a faction of a political party on the garments factory in Baldia Town that killed at least 259 people.

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