Factory fire case: SHC reserves order on bail pleas

Karachi: 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 Arshad Abdul Aziz and Shahid Abdul Aziz submitted that investigation carried out by the police into incident was motivated and full of errors. He said that they had no intention to kill their own workers and ruin their own business, adding it was an accident.

He said that police recorded the statements of more 800 witnesses, and not a single witness testified that factory owners ordered closing of doors when the fire erupted.

He submitted that police have forced some witnesses to record their statements against the factory owners.

Advocate, Khawaja Shamsul Islam, representing factory’s production manager Mansoor Ahmed, reiterated that his client is innocent and also a diabetic. He said that his client fell unconscious when erupted in the factory.

Lawyer Muhammad Tamaz Khan on behalf of his client watchman of factory Arshad Mehmood appealed to the court to grant bail to his client, who was not even present at the time of the fire.

Special public prosecutor Shazia Hanjra informed the court that police have recorded statements of 830 witnesses. She said that all witnesses have testified that doors of the factory were closed.

She submitted that factory owners have been nominated in FIR 343 of 2012, registered at the SITEB police station under Sections 435, 436, 337, 322, 302 and 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code. Though she said that investigation officer on his own has excluded section 302 of Pakistan Penal Code from the last submitted charge sheet against the factory owners.

She stated that factory was built as jail as it had no emergency exit doors and firefighting equipment were not installed in factory.

Investigation officer Jehanzeb informed the court that he has gone through the whole investigation of incident. He held that section 302 of PPC cannot be invoked against the factory owners.

After hearing their arguments, Justice Ghulam Sarwar Korai reserved the order.