SHC issues notices on petition against removing Section 302 from factory fire FIR

Karachi: The Sindh High Court SHC has sought comments from Principal Secretary of Prime Minister of Pakistan, Director General Sindh Building Control Authority and other respondents in a petition against Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf for his alleged interference in the proceedings of the garment factory fire.

The petitioners cited Director General Sindh Building Control Authority, Federation of Pakistan through the Principal Secretary of Prime Minister of Pakistan, Chief Secretary of Sindh, Secretary, Ministry of Labour, Home Secretary, Secretary Sindh Industrial Trading Estate, I.G.P Sindh, Chief Officer Karachi Metropolitan Corporation and Director General Sindh Environmental Protection Agency.

The petitioners, nongovernmental organizations, Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research PILER, Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, National Trade Union Federation, Hosiery Garments Textile and General Workers Union, submitted that in relation to the Baldia Fire Tragedy, an F.I.R. No. 343 of 2012 under Sections 435/436/337/322/302/34, P.P.C., 1860, has been initiated by P.S. S.I.T.E. B, Karachi against owners of factory.

It was submitted that in a speech to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry KCCI on December 29th, 2012 the prime minister said that the authorities should reinvestigate the incident as no murder case was made out against the factory owners, the investigation officer IO submitted a supplementary charge sheet to the trial court after removing Section 302 from it.

They stated that numbers of notices were issued to the owners with regard to violations of building and factory laws, but no action was taken. An alarming fact was revealed to the SHC by the labour department that factory was not even registered with the Directorate of Labour, the petitioners stated.

They said that prime minister had no legal authority to interfere into a criminal investigation, especially the one already pending adjudication before courts and in which a charge sheet had already been submitted and accepted by the trial court.

They stated that the Sindh Building Control Authority SBCA had jurisdiction in the SITE area, and that the authority malafidely absolved itself from all responsibility by claiming that the area did not fall within the ambit of its jurisdiction.

They submitted that though SBCA was directly responsible for deliberately not taking any action against the owners for the numerous building law violations.

They prayed to court to declare that the prime minister’s statement is violation of provincial autonomy and restrain the police from taking any action on the basis of statements and directions of the prime minister in relation to the case.

They pleaded the court to direct civic agencies to initiate legal proceedings against the factory owners for violating building, factory, labour and environment laws. They also prayed that the government may acquire the land on which the factory was built for the construction and running of a rehabilitation and community centre for the families of the victims.

After preliminary hearing of case, headed Justice Maqbool Baqar issued notices to respondents and put off the hearing till February 14.